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STARS:Differential Analyzers

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Author: Michael Williams


Some of the most difficult problems in science and technology involve solving equations relating to complex physical situations such as predicting the heights of tides, designing antenna systems for radio communication, creating a reliable electrical power grid and accurately predicting where an artillery shell would fall. These problems were only capable of being solved when mechanical analog devices were invented to aid in the solution of differential equations. The creation of the differential analyzer in the first half of the 20th century was a breakthrough that allowed for advances in these and many other areas.


1886 Mechanical integrators created to help with things such as analysis of ocean tides.
1931 Bush torque amplifier and first differential analyzer
1934 Differential analyzers began to be built in the US, Britain, Norway, Sweden, etc.
1942 Rockefeller Differential analyzer (RDA2)
1943 The ENIAC team used vacuum tube electronics to create a device for calculating ballistics tables.
1949 Eventual replacement by digital differential analyzers
1959 Final replacement by general purpose digital computers when they became fast enough



References of Historical Significance

References for Further Reading

About the Author(s)