26 March 2008

Interesting dead end in computer evolution

Someone noticed that google.jp had a picture of some kind of computer. Turns out it’s the Parametron. Not a Futurama character, but instead an early (1950s) computer from Japan that I’d never heard of.

There doesn’t seem to be much on the web about it, but from what I gather, it used a really freaky design with no valves or transistors. Instead, the fundamental unit involved two magnetic coils and a capacitor, with the binary 0 and 1 values being represented by the phase of the AC current. From this unit, the usual AND and OR gates were constructed, and then those were strung together to make a computer.

I wonder if the ideas might be applicable to optical computing?

© mathew 2017