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  1. #1
    Linux Engineer hazel's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Harrow, UK

    Whatever happened to analog computers?

    When I was at school, back in the 60s, they taught us that there were two kinds of computers: analog and digital. Digital computers were like electronic calculators; analog computers were more like electronic slide-rules, using physical properties such as the size of a current to model variables.

    We were told that analog computers were much better than digital ones because they were faster and more accurate. The only advantage digital computers had was that they were more flexible; they could be reprogrammed where an analog computer had to be rewired.

    Do analog computers still exist? I looked in Wikipedia but the latest references were to 60s technology.
    "I'm just a little old lady; don't try to dazzle me with jargon!"

  2. #2
    Linux Guru Jonathan183's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    I'd expect specialist real time applications only ... but then as Rubberman says ... Sometimes, real fast is almost as good as real time. So you might find they have been replaced by digital computers for those applications ...

  3. #3
    Whats an analog computer? Runs to google it.... lol

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  5. #4
    Linux Enthusiast Bemk's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Oosterhout-NB, Netherlands
    Analog signals are still being processed today. Wifi, audio, temperature sensors and light sensors, to name a few.

    Actual computation done by analog systems however, I don't think happens anymore today. There are some devices that filter frequencies and amplify them, but I think that is where the computation ends.

    Real time systems are required to produce a result within a certain amount of time. That's what they guarantee and thus other components can be tuned to that, so I don't think there is a real need for analog computing any more.

    I could see it make a comeback in some form however if quantum computing becomes popular. Quantum computing won't be the main stream, but for some applications it is desirable, for example bank encryption or performing tons of calculations in parallel (maybe graphics cards will use quantum computers).

    If this wasn't at all what you were aiming for, sorry, I'm only born in '92!
    Full time computer science student, spare time OS developer.
    @bemk92 on twitter.

  6. #5
    Linux Guru Jonathan183's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    as my previous post ... expect to see them in specialist realtime applications only ...and may have been replaced

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