Meccano differential analyser, 1935

Meccano differential analyser, 1935

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Credit: EMILIO SEGRE VISUAL ARCHIVES/AMERICAN INSTITUTE OF PHYSICS/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

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Caption: Meccano differential analyser. British mathematician and physicist Douglas Hartree (left, 1897-1958) and his PhD student Arthur Porter (1910-2010) in 1935 at the University of Manchester, UK, with their Meccano differential analyser. A differential analyser was an early, analogue, form of computer, used to solve differential equations. Meccano is a commercial model construction system that was cheaper to use than building separate parts. Around 15 such systems were constructed worldwide in this period. Porter's PhD thesis described the use of this machine to calculate Hartree's wave functions for atomic orbitals.

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