Few people have heard of it, yet many consider John Blankenbaker's KENBAK-1 to be the first commercial personal computer.

Koss introduced these headphones over 40 years ago, and they remain affordable favorites to this day.

The Harmonium: Amazing Analog Computer


This thing is so gorgeous it makes me want to cry. The Harmonium is a mechanical computer designed to perform sine wave synthesis and Fourier Analysis (in other words, it draws and analyzes sine curves). This complex gadget is the brainchild of 64-year-old Dutch inventor Tatjana van Vark, who has a long history of building complex gadgetry (there are several shots of an oscilloscope on her site built when she was 14).

From what I can decypher, this magnificent beast has two capabilities. The first is relatively straightforward: it incorporates a mechanical sine generator that can draw a sine wave onto a paper drum. All you have to do is feed in the amplitude and phase angle and it will happily scrawl away.

The Harmonium's second ability is a tad more complex - it includes a mechanical integrator which you can use to trace the sine curve and perform a fourier analysis to extract the phase and amplitude of the curve, which is displayed on two dials. Too technical for you? Let's just say that this entire machine elegantly replaces a single function of a $100 graphing calculator with a few thousand dollar-euros of precision engineered metal. Visit van Vark's site for dozens more jaw-dropping photos.

The Harmonium: Mechanical Fourier Analysis and Synthesis [via Matrixsynth]

Follow the jump for more gratuitous gear porn...

A shot from above showing the machine's three main components. The sine wave generator is on the top right, the mechanical integrator is on the top left and the paper drum on the bottom is the machine's "display":

Harmonium top

The sine wave generator:

Harmonium Sine

The mechanical integrator:

Harmonium integrator


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