# Analog computers

These machines, once the workhorses of science and engineering, used physical components to represent and manipulate data. Unlike today's digital computers which rely on zeros and ones, analog computers operated on continuous variables like voltage or rotation.

Imagine a slide rule – a simple analog computer for multiplication. Now imagine complex mechanisms with gears, levers, and electrical circuits to solve differential equations, predict weather patterns, or even control machinery. Analog computers excelled at continuous calculations and real-time interactions, making them ideal for:

- Scientific calculations: Ballistic tables for artillery, flight simulations
- Engineering design: Analyzing stress in bridges, optimizing power grids
- Industrial control: Refining processes in chemical plants, regulating temperatures

A prime example of analog computers in action are ship GFCS. These complex systems used gyroscopes, rangefinders, and mechanical calculators to predict the movement of enemy ships and adjust gunnery in real-time.

While largely replaced by digital computers, there's a growing interest in simulating these historical machines, due to offering a unique window into the history of computing; building the digital models that mimic the behavior of analog components or hybrid approaches like combining physical components with software to create a more realistic experience. Studying the design and operation of these machines offers valuable insights into the history of technology and also simulations can provide a safe and efficient way to train students and engineers on how these systems worked.

## Simulators[edit]

Replicating analog computers via simulator is far from simple. Challenges include:

- Complexity: Capturing the intricate interactions of physical components can be computationally expensive.
- Lack of documentation: Detailed information on some systems may be lost to time.

- See ernieg's Analog Computer Simulation on CircuitLabs.com — Analog Computer Simulation of a 2nd Order Differential Equation