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William Blair

Joined: 06 Nov 2005
Posts: 68

PostPosted: Fri Jan 13, 2006 11:17 pm    Post subject: Pongmechanik Reply with quote

I was reading about Konrad Zuse's highly innovative Z3 and Z4 relay-based computers in the excellent MIT Press book entitled "The First Computers: History and Architectures" and decided to go looking on the web for more info on him and relay computers in general. I found this, which might be old news to many of you:


It's a relay-computer-based, electromechanical game of pong. Be sure to watch the video. Amazing.

And my brother-in-law thinks _I'm_ eccentric (actually, he said, "you need help") just for collecting CPUs.
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Joined: 24 Jul 2005
Posts: 3468

PostPosted: Sat Jan 14, 2006 7:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Simply awesome. Smile

Proof that intelligent human minds DO NOT LIVE LONG ENOUGH. They either go MAD or DIE. Sad


I am always blown away by this...


"The Curta, a Mechanical Wonder

It was designed by Curt Herzstark (1902-1988) of Austria, while prisoner at Buchenwald concentration camp in 1943. The Curta is a cylindrical four function calculator, similar to the Gauss calculator designed by Hamann in 1905, with a clockwise "operating handle" on top and sliding digit levers on the side. Digits are displayed in small openings on top of each lever. Its coffee grinder appearance gives one more meaning to the expression "number crunching." Paradoxically, Leibnizís stepped drum, which had the disadvantage of being too bulky, was used, with some clever modifications, as the heart of this small piece of ingenuity.

Curt Herzstark was not new to the art; his father Samuel Herzstark (1867-1937), founded in 1905 the Rechenmaschinenwerk Austria Herzstark & Co. a manufacturer of Thomas based Arithmometers (Austria models). In 1927, Curt Herzstark also invented a mechanical memory for the Multimator, a multicolumn machine manufactured by Astrawerke in Germany.

After the war, in 1946, Curt Herzstark was invited by the Prince of Liechtenstein to establish a manufacturing plant for the Curta in the Principality of Liechtenstein, east of Switzerland. The company Contina AG was founded for this purpose and Herzstark entered as partner and technical director. By 1949, the Curta I, one of the most impressive displays of high precision craftsmanship among mechanical calculators, was introduced. In 1950 Curt Herzstark was issued US Patent 2,525,352.

Curt Herzstark sold the patent rights to Contina and retired in 1952. Contina introduced the Curta II in 1954. Later, in 1966, Contina was sold to Hilti, a Swiss company. Hilti continued the production of the Curta until 1972 when the electronic pocket calculators took over the market.

Bruce Flamm estimates that about 80,000 of the Curta I, and 60,000 of the Curta II were made."
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