Technology for Modelling: Electrical Analogies, Engineering Practice, and the Development of Analogue Computing (History of Computing)

Technology for Modelling: Electrical Analogies, Engineering Practice, and the Development of Analogue Computing (History of Computing)

Charles Care

Language: English

Pages: 203


Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Historians have different views on the core identity of analogue computing. Some portray the technology solely as a precursor to digital computing, whereas others stress that analogue applications existed well after 1940. Even within contemporary sources, there is a spectrum of understanding around what constitutes analogue computing. To understand the relationship between analogue and digital computing, and what this means for users today, the history must consider how the technology is used.

Technology for Modelling investigates the technologies, the concepts, and the applications of analogue computing. The text asserts that analogue computing must be thought of as not just a computing technology, but also as a modelling technology, demonstrating how the history of analogue computing can be understood in terms of the parallel themes of calculation and modelling. The book also includes a number of detailed case studies of the technology's use and application.

Topics and features: discusses the meaning of analogue computing and its significance in history, and describes the main differences between analogue and digital computing; provides a chronology of analogue computing, based upon the two major strands of calculation and modeling; examines the wider relationship between computing and modelling, and discusses how the theme of modelling fits within the history of analogue computing; describes how the history of analogue computing evolved through a number of stages of use; presents illustrative case studies on analogue modelling in academic research, oil reservoir modelling, aeronautical design, and meteorology.

General readers and researchers in the field of history of computing – as well as history of science more generally – will find this book a fascinating insight into the historical use and evolution of technology. The volume provides a long-needed historical framework and context for these core computing technologies.

Dr. Charles Care is a senior software engineer at BT and an Associate Fellow at the Department of Computer Science of the University of Warwick, UK.

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devices will work; practical limitations on the bulk or cost or convenience of operation provide the only restrictions. The usual mechanical computing machine, utilizing gears, pauls, etc., are examples of impulse calculators.89 For Mauchly and Atanasoff, the technology they named ‘analog’ was based on physical analogy. Hence, an analogue was a machine or set-up which maintained a correspondence or analogy between two physical systems. The continuous nature of the machine was coincidental. A

Music Archive: Holdings from EMI Electronics Library. Fifer, S.: Analogue Computation, vol. 4. McGraw–Hill, New York (1961). Fischer, C.F.: Douglas Rayner Hartree: His Life in Scientific Computing. World Scientific, Singapore (2003). MATHCrossRef Fischer, J.: Instrumente zur mechanischen integration, ein Zwischenbericht. In: 25 Jahre Lehrstuhl für Geschichte der exakten Wissenschaften und der Technik an der Technischen Universität, Berlin 1969–1994 (1995). Fisher, M.E.: The solution of

experience of creating an artefact or mechanical model that embodied the phenomena he was studying. This was what Philbrick understood as synthesis. Similarly, in a popular book on computing published in 1970, Stuart Hollingdale and Geoffrey Toothill described computing as being either ‘equation solving’ or ‘simulation’. Simulations involved an analogue computer and were a study where ‘there is no need for mathematical manipulation… quantities having a direct physical interpretation.’ Both of

systems: The progress in recent years has been largely due to a clear understanding of the analogous relations which exist between mechanical and electrical vibrating systems, and to the application of already known electrical theory modified to suit the mechanical case. Inductance, capacity and resistance in electrical systems are analogous to mass, reciprocal stiffness and resistance in mechanical systems.22 We can see that the terminology of ‘electrical analogy’ had become a focal point

computer, it was no different to any other tool. The technology’s ability to deliver results, and the fact that BP had one, was still worth broadcasting. Furthermore, the fact it was called a ‘computer’ further helped strengthen the high-technology image that BP wanted to maintain. 6.5 Conclusion The BP story offers a window on the use of analogue computing for industrial problems. We have seen that it was commercially viable in 1958 for a global company to invest in an analogue computer and

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