Machine This Week: November 9th – 11th
Mechanical engineer Mark Glusker and Museum Exhibit Developer Maria Mortati will be in residence all weekend to provide a series of lectures, interactive performances and workshops oriented around vintage calculating machines.
In 1840 Thomas Fowler, an inventor and a self-taught engineer, built a calculating machine made entirely out of wood. Neither the machine nor drawings survived. Mechanical engineer Mark Glusker, working with a team of historians in England, built a reconstruction to prove that it worked. Fowler was a contemporary of Charles Babbage, one of the pioneers of early computers. While Babbage used a decimal system, Fowler used a base 3 calculation. Mark Glusker will provide a lecture about the machine, base 3 calculation and Thomas Fowler.
Calculators are silent, ubiquitous, boring, and utterly reliable- to the point where you don’t even question the answers that you get. In the early 1960’s they were big, heavy, noisy, smelly objects. They had unique interfaces and needed constant maintenance for reliability. Calculation was a visceral process that shook the entire table. Mark Glusker will talk about his collection of mechanical calculating machines and what makes them so compelling: from their mechanical complexity to the unique interfaces, and industrial design. After the talk there will be an orchestrated calculation performed simultaneously by 6 mechanical calculators and members of the audience plus a very special secret musical guest!
This dual-track workshop approaches calculating machines from a technological and experiential point of view. We will disassemble several 1960’s era mechanical calculating machines and explore what makes them work. We will also talk about other forms of calculation without transistors. While continuing to look under the hood of the machines, we will have a simultaneous workshop where participants can make miniature gesture drawings of the motors in action, and create large-scale compositions of their tiny gears, cams, and springs. Machine dissection will be led by Mark Glusker and machine drawing by Maria Mortati.
Register for this class at the following link: