Repairing the power supply from a 1969 analog computer #VintageComputing @kenshirriff

Ken Shirriff posts about his adventures in repairing a 1969 Model 240 analog computer from Simulators Inc.

We recently started restoring a vintage analog computer. Unlike a digital computer that represents numbers with discrete binary values, an analog computer performs computations using physical, continuously changeable values such as voltages. Since the accuracy of the results depends on the accuracy of these voltages, a precision power supply is critical in an analog computer. This blog post discusses how this computer’s power supply works, and how we fixed a problem with it. This is the second post in the series; the first post discussed the precision op amps in the computer.

Analog computers used to be popular for fast scientific computation, especially differential equations, but pretty much died out in the 1970s as digital computers became more powerful. They were typically programmed by plugging cables into a patch panel, yielding a spaghetti-like tangle of wires. In the photo above, the colorful patch panel is in the middle. Above the patch panel, 18 potentiometers set voltage levels to input different parameters. A smaller patch panel for the digital logic is in the upper right.

The network card. The two connectors on the left are attached to the op amp inputs.

See the entire post here – Ken always does an excellent job of explaining the troubleshooting process and provides excellent pictures.


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