flushable computing

In electrical engineering class, I was told to think of electric circuits with a kind of hydraulic analogy. But could you extend this to entire computers? The Rube Goldberg Machine That Mastered Keynesian Economics, built by John Horton Conway[PDF] from a urinal flush mechanism.

He wasn’t the only one: Kiwi engineer-turned-economist Bill Phillips built Phillips machine, or MONIAC at Cambridge to model the complex, interconnected British economy.

It had to be put back together by Allen McRobie from the engineering department – “no economist could work out quite how Phillips had pieced the original machine together.”

The Crypto-Water Computer. Gloop.

In 1936, Vladimir Lukyanov built a water computer to solve partial differential equations, the “water integrator.”

Everything old is new again: Moore’s Law Is About To Get Weird


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