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Old 12-16-2008, 07:51 AM   #16
Klay
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Xeraux
If it calculates something it is "computing" it, is it not?
That could be, but then why don't we call a clock a computer?
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Old 12-16-2008, 07:53 AM   #17
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more on this here:

http://www.antikythera-mechanism.gr/

including radiographs of all the original pieces
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Old 12-16-2008, 07:55 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Klay
That could be, but then why don't we call a clock a computer?
Because we call it a clock or a timepiece or a watch or a... You get the idea.

You're defining "computer" too narrowly. A computer is used to calculate something. Its gearing is calculating the position of the moon, stars, planets, etc. It's a computer.
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Old 12-16-2008, 08:01 AM   #19
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I seem to remember reading somewhere that the Russian Navy was using mechanical computers aboard ships up until the early eighties or so.
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Old 12-16-2008, 08:06 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Xeraux
Because we call it a clock or a timepiece or a watch or a... You get the idea.

You're defining "computer" too narrowly. A computer is used to calculate something. Its gearing is calculating the position of the moon, stars, planets, etc. It's a computer.
I remember the mechanical "target data computers" that were used during WW2 to calculate firing solutions for weapons. It's true I tend to thing of these kind of devices as calculators because the "software" is not easily changeable. I think of a computer as the type of machine which can be told to calculate entirely different types of problems easily..."reprogrammed."


I want to call the Antikythera an astronomical clock. A position calculator for the heavenly bodies. If it can't be easily adapted to calculate the rate grain rises in a bin when fed by a conveyor belt running at varying rates I wouldn't call it a computer.
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Old 12-16-2008, 08:12 AM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Klay
I remember the mechanical "target data computers" that were used during WW2 to calculate firing solutions for weapons. It's true I tend to thing of these kind of devices as calculators because the "software" is not easily changeable. I think of a computer as the type of machine which can be told to calculate entirely different types of problems easily..."reprogrammed."


I want to call the Antikythera an astronomical clock. A position calculator for the heavenly bodies. If it can't be easily adapted to calculate the rate grain rises in a bin when fed by a conveyor belt running at varying rates I wouldn't call it a computer.
From the OED:

computer Also -or. [f. compute v.
+ -er1.]
1. One who computes; a calculator, reckoner; spec. a person employed to make calculations in an observatory, in surveying, etc.
2. a. A calculating-machine; esp. an automatic electronic device for performing mathematical or logical operations; freq. with defining word prefixed, as analogue, digital, electronic computer (see these words).


I do understand what you're saying, but the people calling the Antikythera a "computer" are using the word properly in this case. Programmabilty isn't part of the word "computer's" definition.
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Old 12-16-2008, 08:15 AM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Xeraux
I do understand what you're saying, but the people calling the Antikythera a "computer" are using the word properly in this case. Programmabilty isn't part of the word "computer's" definition.
Fair enough. But I'd like to redefine the word.
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Old 12-16-2008, 08:15 AM   #23
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Pocket protector fight at ten paces.
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Old 12-16-2008, 08:16 AM   #24
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Pocket protector fight at ten paces.
It's gold, man.
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Old 12-16-2008, 08:18 AM   #25
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Is the ECU in your bike a computer, or a calculator?


Here's my favorite mechanical calc.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Curta

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Old 12-16-2008, 08:31 AM   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Klay
Fair enough. But I'd like to redefine the word.
I'm not kidding or being an asshole when I say this. You can submit a new definition to the OED. You even get credit for it somewhere. They are adding to and refining definitions all the time.

But... I do disagree with you that programmability has anything to do with calling a machine designed to "compute" something, a "computer".
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Old 12-16-2008, 08:37 AM   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Xeraux
I'm not kidding or being an asshole when I say this. You can submit a new definition to the OED. You even get credit for it somewhere. They are adding to and refining definitions all the time.
Well sure, a word means whatever we mean it to mean.
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Old 12-16-2008, 08:39 AM   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Klay
Well sure, a word means whatever we mean it to mean.
Don't be such an Abacus.
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Old 12-16-2008, 08:41 AM   #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Klay
Well sure, a word means whatever we mean it to mean.
The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of The Oxford English Dictionary was about Dr. W. C. Minor who contributed thousands of definitions from his cell in an insane asylum.

It was a good read.
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Old 12-16-2008, 08:44 AM   #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Xeraux
The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of The Oxford English Dictionary was about Dr. W. C. Minor who contributed thousands of definitions from his cell in an insane asylum.

It was a good read.
I've read some other stories about him. I was going to trot him out at some point but now you've pre-empted me.
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