UCLA's differential analyser (1948 short film)

Here’s a short informational film from 1948 or thereabouts:
There’s also a version on YouTube:

which carries some text from UCLA’s history pages (since redesigned):

“In December of 1977, the last working model of a mechanical differential analyzer in the world is donated by UCLA to the Smithsonian Institution for its pioneering computing display. The differential analyzer introduced much of Southern California industry to automatic computing, but became obsolete beginning in 1960 as it was replaced by computing machines with electronic circuits and vacuum tubes. From 1960 on, it was used mainly as a display piece, clanking away occasionally for student and public demonstrations.”


On Nov. 16, 1946, the College of Engineering receives a General Electric Mechanical Differential Analyzer, a “mechanical brain” capable of solving in a few days mathematical problems which would take several years of work by conventional methods. This was only the sixth instrument of its kind in the United States.

And “Mechanical Brains Networked”:

In May of 1954, engineers first connect two mechanical brains, the differential analyzer and the network analyzer, to solve the problem of accidental grounding or short circuits in large power lines, which often results in “brown outs” or power failure. The analyzers, located in separate rooms and connected by 100 feet of cable, solve the complex problem in 10 minutes.

Previously Hartree’s analyser was mentioned in A day at MOSI (now the Science and Industry Museum, still in Manchester UK)

via YellowPlastic


Two important technologies needed are a mechanical integrator, and a torque amplifier:

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