The Smallest Analog Computer Ever Made?!
By James Grahame
From the early 1960s brochure: "Donner's Model 3500 is a full-fledged analog computer weighing just 28 lbs. Designed for engineers, educators and scientists, it can be used to study almost any physical system that can be described by differential equations. It can be operated on desk tops and benches by anyone who can run a slide rule. The standard 3500 contains 10 amplifiers, stabilized or unstabilized as the user chooses. The computer performs accurately with 1% or 0.1% computing components, and is furnished ready-to-work for $1850, depending upon specific equipment desired."
Fast forward 50 years, and I'd much rather have a Macbook. It's astounding to realize just how far we've come in the past half century; the Donner 3500 used vacuum tubes and was anything but simple to use. These days, you could create a comparable analog function generator using a variety of solid-state op amps and buffers that cost only a few cents each.