Computer in 1900

Rod Smallwood RodSmallwood at
Fri Feb 15 10:02:33 CST 2008

Where was all the technology in 1900?

Railways - Signaling systems, Switches(Points) control. 
Warships - Gun control and ranging. Navigation.
Telephone systems

There must have been something computer like in that lot somewhere.

-----Original Message-----
From: cctech-bounces at
[mailto:cctech-bounces at] On Behalf Of woodelf
Sent: 15 February 2008 14:54
To: On-Topic and Off-Topic Posts
Subject: Re: Computer in 1900

Brent Hilpert wrote:
> To be realisitic about what might have been accomplished in 1900 the 
> whole issue of building a large system of hundreds/thousands of 
> components needs to be looked at more seriously. Will raised the issue

> for tubes, but it applies to all the other components as well, 
> regarding reliability, uniformity and stability of characteristics. 
> The idea of building such large systems was considered daunting or 
> simply implausible even in the 1940's, after decades of development of
components - even regarding something as seemingly simple as resistors.

I think at one time you could get resistors with a 50% range of
tolarance when they first came out, say around the 1900's.

> Or, for example, solid-state diodes: the discovery may have been made 
> in 1874, but in the early 1900s the only thing actually available 
> (TMK) was the cat's whisker (a tad finicky) - forget about building 
> anything utilising more than a couple of them.

And you piss off the cat making your diode.

> Then there's achieving a stable power supply.

Well you would have your own power plant -- coal, gas ( as in gas lamps)
or hydro-electric.

>, depends on where you want to draw the line between concept and
> The principles/theory of digital systems implementation may be 
> straighforward, the practical reality when dealing with 
> unreliable/variable components isn't so (including tubes); in 
> particular if you don't have some heavily-non-linear device to base 
> your basic gate design around. In 1900 there was very little in the 
> electrical domain that was reliable or consistent for the purposes
being discussed.

More information about the cctalk mailing list