The Harmonic Analyzer, A 19th Century Computer Capable of Analyzing Frequencies

Engineer Guy Bill Hammack takes a look at the Harmonic Analyzer, a 19th century mechanical computer designed by Albert Michelson that has been mostly forgotten, but sat in a case at the University of Illinois.

The 19th century mechanical marvel featured in this new video series does Fourier analysis: it can find the frequency components of a signal using only gears, springs and levers — an astonishing feat in an age before electronic computers.

Hammack has also turned his discoveries into a book, Albert Michelson’s Harmonic Analyzer, which is available in physical format or as a free PDF.

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