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Differential Analyzer at the Vintage Computer Festival

The Vintage Computer Festival held its 7.0 meeting at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California on November 6/7 2004. I entered the differential analyzer in the "Re-creation, Emulation or Contemporary Enhancement" class where it received first place.  It was also awarded "Best technology: Analog" and "Best Technology: Non-electronic".  Visitors to the show were able to vote for their favorite exhibit, and the differential analyzer also won the "People's Choice Award".

To see a movie of the machine operating at the show click here (.wmv format, 7MB).  This file was kindly provided by Bill Selmeier.

Below are some pictures from the event.  Click on any image to see a high resolution version.

Display Board
Display board showing pictures of the prototype, principles of operation, and a setup diagram for the equation being run for demonstration.

The author explaining the principles of operation to two of the museum staff before the show opened to the public.

A view showing most of the machine.  The input table is obscured behind the display board.  In the background, the adjacent exhibit is a large DEC PDP-11 system from 1972 (some 40 years after Bush built the first differential analyzer) running a very early version of UNIX.  The Meccano visible at the extreme left edge is the corner of my Difference Engine exhibit.

Close scrutiny from a couple of visitors while the author explains operation of the input table.

The author at the input table while visitors look on.

Although too young to understand what the machine does, children were captivated by the vast number of moving parts.

Explaining how the integrators operate.

A view from the operator's seat at the input table.

Some more young guests captivated by the decimal revolution counters.  The author operating the input table.

Another group getting to grips with how mechanical integrators operate!

Last modified:  10 November 2004
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© 2004 Tim Robinson