Integrator Unit from Bush Differential Analyzer


This wooden box with a glass front contains two of the six original integrators from the differential analyzer designed by Vannevar Bush (1890-1974) for use in the electrical engineering department at MIT. Built from 1927, the differential analyzer was a room-sized analog, mechanical computing device designed principally to integrate equations. Building on Bush's example, differential analyzers would be built in Europe as well as the United States. They required repositioning of components for each problem carried out, and proved slower and less flexible - though initially more reliable - than electronic computers.

After MIT had built improved differential anzlyzers, this one was moved to and used at Wayne University in Detroit. By 1956, it was no longer needed there, and given to the Smithsonian..

For related transaction, with other parts to the MIT differential analyzer, see 1983.3002. For a more complete differential analyzer, used at UCLA, see 1983.0023.


Larry Owens, "Vannevar Bush and the Differential Analyzer: The Text and Context of an Early Computer," Technology and Culture, vol. 37, #1, 1986, pp. 63-95.

Date Made: ca 1930

Maker: Bush, Vannevar

Location: Currently not on view

Place Made: United States: Massachusetts, Cambridge

Subject: Mathematics


See more items in: Medicine and Science: Mathematics, Mechanical Integrators and Analyzers


Exhibition Location:

Credit Line: Gift of Wayne University

Data Source: National Museum of American History

Id Number: MA.314824Catalog Number: 314824Accession Number: 208694

Object Name: differential analyzer component

Physical Description: metal (parts material)wood (case. lid material)glass (sides of case material)Measurements: overall: 55.2 cm x 96 cm x 96 cm; 21 23/32 in x 37 25/32 in x 37 25/32 in


Record Id: nmah_1215155

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