Windell at Evil Mad Scientist Labs has dredged up an amazing project book from the Internet Archive: How to Build a Working Digital Computer (1967) (by Edward Alcosser, James P. Phillips, and Allen M. Wolk) contains a full set of instructions for building a working computer out of paperclips and various bits and bobs from the local hardware store. You can even use paperclips for switches (though, as Windell notes, "Arrays of paperclip logic gates can get pretty big, pretty fast.")
The instructions include a read-only drum memory for storing the computer program (much like a player piano roll), made from a juice can, with read heads made from bent paper clips. A separate manually-operated “core” memory (made of paper-clip switches) is used for storing data.
So can this “paper clip” computer actually built, and if so, would it work? Apparently yes, on both counts. Cleveland youngsters Mark Rosenstein and Kenny Antonelli built one named “Emmerack” in 1972 (albeit substituting Radio Shack slide switches for most of the paper clips), and another was built in 1975 by the Wickenburg High School Math Club in Arizona. And, at least one modern build has been completed, as you can see on YouTube.
How to Build a Working Digital Computer… out of paperclips
(via O'Reilly Radar)
Where are our petabyte drives? Brian Hayes takes us through the reasons storage is “stuck” in the low terabytes. The tl;dr is that we got such exceptional capacity growth in the late 90s and early 00s we don’t need much more right now, so the focus since then has been on SSDs, networking, interfaces, etc, […]
Amélie Lamont, a former staffer at website-hosting startup Squarespace, writes that she often found herself disregarded and disrespected by her colleagues. One comment in particular, though, set her reeling — and came to exemplify her experiences there.
In this episode of the Flash Forward podcast we travel to a future where humans have decided to eradicate the most dangerous animal on the planet: mosquitos. How would we do it? Is it even possible? And what are the consequences? Flash Forward: RSS | iTunes | Twitter | Facebook | Web | Patreon We […]
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, […]