Is a Completely Mechanical CPU possible?

Is a Completely Mechanical CPU possible?


We all know that it takes advanced nanometer-scale electronics to build something similar to a CPU, or Central Processing Unit, a component that gives life to computers as we know them. But is there any way around to produce a CPU, without using electronics?

Image credit: Wesley Kagan (still image from YouTube video)

The answer to this question could be surprising, but in fact yes, CPUs can be built using materials, tools and principles other than those based on electricity. The early prototypes of numerical machines were entirely mechanical. There are a number of drawbacks related to mechanical computation – big weight and size, lots of noise, fast wear, and relatively poor reliability, just to name a few of them. So it is no surprise that later computers quickly transitioned to something more practical and viable for our daily use.

So is it difficult to use mechanical components in order to implement functions of binary logic, and to construct larger devices that could operate as CPUs? This video explains how it can be done using modern technological basis, with a very nice practical experiment:

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