Building a Computer in Conway's Game of Life

Conway’s Game of Life, CPU design, basic emulation, what do these have in common? Nicolas Loizeau has designed a basic, programmable, Turing complete computer with an ALU formed from basic gates implemented as gliders in Conway’s Game of Life.

The purpose of this page is to describe the functioning of a computer built in Conway’s game of life. An in-detail explanation of all the mechanisms and all the components of the computer would be too long to describe here. Only the fundamental principles and main components are explained here. I think this is enough to permit anyone to recreate a similar computer or reuse it’s ideas and components for any other project.

The idea here is to illustrate the Turing completeness of game of life with a more impressive example, closer to our computers and easier to program than a basic Turing machine.


The information is carried by glider beams. Their spatial period is 30, their time period is 60. This allows gilder beam crossings. The 4 basic components of the computer are:

  • period 60 glider gun
  • 90° glider reflector
  • glider duplicator
  • a glider eater



Video from the above page:

GitHub repository: