The digicomp was a mechanical computer sold as a plastic toy in 1963. Capable to count, multiply, divide, depending of how it is programmed.
This computer is composed of :
- Operating Wires
- Bits (3)
- Sense Wires
The clock is operated manually. It is composed of two sliders which surround the rotating actuator wires, its role is to operate the rotating actuator wires, depending of two variables : the bit-value and the programme.
The grey plate represents a binary digit : a bit It can slide to indicate two values, 1 or 0. The two rotating actuator wires operate the digit. One to move to 0 and one to move to 1 (set and reset). In normal functioning : nothing happens but when a rotating actuator wire is slightly pushed, the clock moves entirely the wire and the value of the digit changes.
The key is to slightly push the actuator wire when the value of the bit needs to be modified The key is this device : the sense wire. It enables the machine to read the programme and the value of bits and allows binary operation. The sense wire is connected to the actuator wire thanks to a fork. If the sense wire moves, the actuator wire moves too.
The key is to allow or forbid the movement of sense wires : thanks to the programme. The red joiner represents the programme. It is a stop for the sense wires. When it is behind the sense wires, the sense wire cannot move, the actuator wire cannot move and the value of the bit is not modified. When it is not behind the sense wires, the sense wire can move, the actuator wire is slighly pushed by the sense wire and the value of the bit is modified.
To understand more presicely, watch the video with an example of program :
The digicomp can be programming for many things, couting, dividing, even playing game, in three bits. I have made the building instructions. You can watch it here or download the PDF :