Differential Analyser [Meccano; No.2]
Maker and role
J B Bratt, Inventor
Meccano Limited, Manufacturer
See full details
About 15 Meccano based Differential Analysers as well as many full scale Differential Analysers were built in the USA, UK and Europe between 1934 and the early 1950s. They were eventually replaced by electronic analogue computers and later faster digital computers.
The Manchester machine proved to be so successful that a second Meccano Differential Analyser was constructed at the Cambridge University Mathematical Laboratories by J B Bratt under the direction of Professor J E Lennard-Jones in 1935. This is known as the Meccano Differential Analyser No. 2, and is the machine currently at MOTAT. It initially had four integrators; a fifth integrator was added by Maurice Wilkes in 1937. During the Second World War (1939-45) it was co-opted for military use, and various improvements were made to it at this time under the direction of Dr J Crank.
Dr Harry Whale, who had used the Meccano Differential Analyser No. 2 briefly while studying at Cambridge, bought it for £100 in 1950 and had it shipped to New Zealand for use in his research at the Seagrove Radio Research Station in Auckland. It subsequently saw service at the Applied Mathematics Laboratory of the DSIR in Wellington until 1961.
This machine is believed to be the first analogue computer to be used in New Zealand and the only remaining working Meccano-based Differential Analyser in the world, out of about 15 constructed during the period 1934 to 1951.