Saturday, January 26, 2008

Asterix-Punk Computing

Retro-Futurists take note:
Neatorama has a great post up on the history of computing. Examples go from flint-napping-punk, stone age calculating devices inscribed on baboon fibula, to transistor-punk, Eniac, the first room-filling digital computer.
Of course my favorites are somewhere in between technologically, if not chronologically.
Witness the beauty that is Blaise Pascal's Pascaline:

The second mechanical calculator, called the Pascaline or the Arithmetique, was invented in 1645 by Blaise Pascal. Pascal started working on his calculator when he was just 19 years old, out of boredom. He created a device to help his father, a tax collector, to crunch numbers... The basic mechanism of the Pascaline is a series of gears - when the first gear with ten teeth made one rotation (one to ten), it shifts a second gear until it rotated ten times (one hundred). The second gear shifted a third one (thousands) and so on. This mechanism is still in use today in car odometers, electricity meters and at the gas pumps.

And supporting character from Stephenson's Baroque Trilogy, Liebniz's Stepped Reckoner:

Leibniz’s design used a special type of gear called the Stepped Drum or Leibniz wheel, a cylinder with nine bar-shaped teeth along its length. He named his machine the Staffelwalze or the Stepped Reckoner.
The machine was a marked improvement from Pascal’s design and could add, subtract, multiply, divide, and even evaluate square roots by a series of additions.

Both of these are gorgeous artifacts which give me some ideas for further embellishments upon my steampunk scooter...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

One of those Pascalines is being auctioned off at Philip Weiss auctions. I think these are very rare. I looked at the pictures of the one being auctioned and it looks amazing.