Chris Fenton’s Amazing Electro/Mechanical computers

I remember reading about Chris Fenton’s homebrew Cray, which was impressive enough. It was implemented on a Xilinx Spartan-3E FPGA board, and eventually he got a Cray assembler written. It also is neat, because it looks like a tiny Cray:


But I wasn’t too interested in actually building one. But the gods of Internet surfing sent me back to his website today and I found two new projects of exceeding awesomeness:

The FIBIAC – an electromechanical computer

And the even more amazing, purely mechanical Turbo Encabulator:

As my only “value added” link, Chris makes reference to a book entitled “The Mechanism of Weaving”, which detailed the function of the Jacquard looms that were the predecessors of punch cards and early mechanical computers. His edition was published in 1895, but it turns out you can get an online copy from the Internet Archive. Very neat.

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