2020-11-14 Computerless Computer Science

@zens has been sharing a ton of links about computerless computering on Mastodon. It all started with @neauoire asking for “anything relevant to paper computing, diy punchards machines, graph-paper coding, vedic mathematics, mechanical programming, and other things you have stumbled upon that you found interesting related to computerless computing?”

The Curta hand crank calculator, where multiplication is done by repeated addition.

Slide rules are graphical analogue calculators “At its simplest, each number to be multiplied is represented by a length on a sliding ruler. As the rulers each have a logarithmic scale, it is possible to align them to read the sum of the logarithms, and hence calculate the product of the two numbers.”

The whole Abacus field, including Chinese Suanpan and Japanese Soroban is super fascinating. The Roman section on the Abacus page has a picture where you can see the use of pebbles (calculi).

The entire complex of tools built relating to the stars is fascinating, from the Antikythera Mechanism to the Sextant and the Astrolabe.

The MONIAC: “The MONIAC (Monetary National Income Analogue Computer) … was created in 1949 … to model the national economic processes … The MONIAC was an analogue computer which used fluidic logic to model the workings of an economy.”

Ramakrishnan VU3RDD @vu3rdd linked me to CS Unplugged which appears to be something in the same vein, where kids are taught CS concepts without using a computer.


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