Love this August, 1935 article from Science and Mechanics magazine about the hulking, three-ton ballistic computers -- reminds me a lot of the way that Asimov and Heinlein both wrote about "big brains" in their fiction over the next couple decades:
The "fire, control" machines, now used to plot the flight of shells from modern guns in moving ships, against moving targets, deal with practical conditions like this; and the machine pictured could answer a question of this nature, as well as a good many others less specialized. For instance, three or more heavenly bodies (like Earth, Sun, and Moon) are moving in their orbits at different rates of speed and varying distances, attracting each other. What will be the combined result of their forces, in changing the positions of each, in a given period? It is an enormously difficult proposition for the best mathematician in the world. With this machine, its ten "integrators" would be adjusted (by setting dials) to represent the varying factors of the problem, and then started turning. The friction discs and gears of the machine would operate on each other, each of them with an effect proportioned to the energy and speed it represented; and, on the final chart at the "answer table" of the machine (see illustration) a curve would be drawn by a metal pen, representing the formula desired (not necessarily a physical picture of the motion of one of the heavenly bodies, but a mathematical picture of it).
Craiglist has something wonderful on it: a vast collection of more than 600 vintage Smith-Corona typewriters, including accessories and marketing literature. Yours for a hundred grand. My collection consists of over 600 typewriter items including the company’s first typewriter in the 1880’s to one of the company’s last typewriters in 2000’s and all models in […]
We’re huge fans of portable power gadgets, but this one isn’t going in my pocket to help me keep my phone topped up after lunch. Anker’s Powerhouse is the size and weight of a concrete construction brick, and at $500 and 120,000mAh, by far their largest power pack yet. It’ll charge your laptop 15 times […]
Dyson, makers of high-end vacuum cleaners and other gadgets that do clever things with air, is moving into beauty products. The Dyson Supersonic hair dryer promises a premium model’s power in a smaller, quieter package, and was built around the company’s smallest motor yet. It’s priced at $400, too — apparently not unreasonable for salon […]
You may not love Microsoft Word, but you’ve definitely used it. Other than being one of the most ubiquitous programs on the planet, it’s been the go-to word processing system for more than a quarter-century because it’s as basic as it gets. But occasionally, you’ve got assignments that beg for a lot more options than simple […]
Almost everyone has their smartphone in a case of one kind or another. Beyond simple protection, finding a case that can charge your phone on its own, but doesn’t feel like it’s also adding a couple pounds to the phone’s weight is the tricky part. Billed as the world’s thinnest battery case, the ThinCharge iPhone […]
You never know when new projects, ideas or opportunities can drop into your lap at a moment’s notice. That may require you to learn a new programming language like Python. Or maybe you need a primer on 3D game development. Or you might realize you could use a serious brush-up on iOS mobile creation.Point is, […]