Mechanical computers: Turing Machine and Analytical Engine

Hello,
I want to see (and show!) a completely mechanical (let's say: wooden) Turing machine in action. And also the never built Analytical Engine
of Charles Babbage. I have in mind how the mechanical Turing machine should work (all axes, gears, belts, and punch cards) and there are loads of detailed sketches of Babbage for his machine (which never came to life because of friction problems presumably).
What I would like to achieve is an impressive animation - as realistic as possible - which gives one a feeling of how such mechanical computing machines would work. It is for educational purposes. For comparison sakes I'd also like to 4D-visualize Babbages Analytical Engine and Konrad Zuses Z3.
The problem is: I am a physicist and philosopher and have nothing to do at all with CAD. So I am looking in the CAD community if there is someone around who would like to spend some time in designing such a machine.
Anyone interested? Or knows someone who might be interested?
Thanks in advance hps
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I believe that a modern day Babbage machine was built a few years ago. I seem to remember reading an article about it. Might have been in Scientific American, Smithsonian, or Invention and Technology.
Jerry Steiger
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Check with the museum where one copy is on display: http://www.computerhistory.org /
(I think it was Larry Ellison who had the copy made, though I might have that wrong.) "Only two devices were built from Babbages designs, and one of them is currently on display at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California. "
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Nathan Myrvohld from Microsoft funded the copy @ CHM.
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Hi folks,
thanks a lot for your hints!
I gathered what seemed to be gathering-worthy (have a re-look at it!):
http://www.computerhistory.org/babbage/ (great VIDEO!) http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?id 0-year-old-computer-babbage (great SLIDESHOW!)
You guessed what I am looking for!
Now let me introduce to you the genuine idea:
Creating a CAD-based toolkit for defining
- abstract machines (like Turing, Babbage, register (abacus vs. von Neumann vs. Harvard architecture), Wolfram automatons, ...) - transforming abstract definitions into concrete mechanical (sic!) 3D- models which visualize the processes going on in these maschines
Since the processes take place on very different levels, creating these models virtually is an issue! Think of a merge of the above VIDEO and SLIDESHOW, with random access to systemic and geometric view points.
SolidWorks might - or might not - be the right tool for this. Maybe Mathematica or MathWorks (SimMechanics) could provide better solutions? (Your opinion is appreciated.)
Very best regards
Hans-Peter
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IFit's silly: why do some people spend so much time and money in implementing mechanical simulations?
- Nathan Myrvohld (OK: in honor of Babbage's merits and for historical reasons) - Ira Gilbert, Jacques Cohen: A simple hardware model of a Turing machine: its educational use (http://portal.acm.org/citation.cfm ? idV9940) - Tim Robinson: Babbages Analytical Engine (http://www.meccano.us / analytical_engine/index.html)
It's my own experience: physical simulations are much more suggestive than mere flipping bits - if they are well done. It is about computing *machines*.
I understand your point: the principles can in principle be demonstrated with flipping bits. But why is this NOT silly: "Just look at the formal definitions!" (you could say.)
Hans-Peter
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On Saturday, August 16, 2008 12:06:56 PM UTC-4, hps wrote:

So you want a program that can interpret your demands and convert them into a mechanical device? This would require a person with full experience pro gramming, experience with CAD, a mastery of mathematics, an understanding o f mechanical engineering, a lot of time, ample funding, a supercomputer, an d a design team behind him.
If you want a simulation of an analytic engine and Turing machine, (the fir st of which would be large enough to fill a warehouse and have hundreds of thousands of parts) it would be a good idea just to design them with a huma n. Is this for a class on math, computer science, or mechanical engineerin g? If it's the first , the difference engine is enough to demonstrate newt on's law of differences, an d a differential analyzer demonstrates calculus principles well. If it's mechanical engineering, all of the individual pa rts can be simulated separately without difficulty. If it's computer scien ce, the Turing machine never has to be built, as it is theoretical, and can be simulated with a language called brainf***, while the analytic engine d oes not have to be built or simulated to demonstrate its basic functionalit y, provided you understand it.
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