A Do-It-Yourself Paper Digital Computer, 1959

John Ptak of JF Ptak Science Books unearthed these plans for a paper computer from 1959.
201011181449This wonderful cut-away and paste-up template for a digital computer comes to us from the Communications of the Association for Computing Machinery, volume 2, issue 9 for September 1959. 

The PAPAC-00 is a “2-register, 1-bit, fixed-instruction binary digital computer” and was submitted to the journal by Rollin P. Mayer (of the MIT Lincoln Lab).  There’s a hunk of me that wants to make this thing really big -- cut out the individual pieces and then crash them out to 50" widths, pasted on found bits of cardboard packing from the neighborhood frame shop, and then piece the thing together as the world’s largest pre-1960 1-bit paper computer.  Or maybe not. 

A Do-It-Yourself Paper Digital Computer, 1959


  1. This is more interesting than what I expected, which was yet another paper “computer” that was nothing more than a bookkeeping aid to help a human simulate a computer (think of the CARDIAC or the Little Man Computer — but this looks like it actually has functioning moving parts.

  2. Can I play Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood on it? Seriously, what would you use this device for? Otherwise, looks to be a pretty ingenious and cheap device.

  3. So you could make up a bunch of these, finesse a carry in there some how, and do just about anything then?

  4. Oh, and you don’t need to pay $125 to Ptak Science Books for the entire IEEE issue… a reprint of the article is available from IEEE for $30.

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