Analog Computing Component - Groove Cam and Gear

Analog Computing Component - Groove Cam and Gear

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In the analog computing devices built by Ford Instrument Company, two-dimensional cams like this one were used to generate functions of one variable. The input is represented by the angle of rotation of the cam, as controlled by the motion of the toothed edge. The output is the motion of a follower along the working surface of the cam. In this particular cam, the working surface is the groove and a pin that rides in the groove serves as the follower. The cam can be rotated through over a full circle, extending the range of the input function.
On cams, see Audio Products, Inc., “Basic Mechanisms in Fire Control Computers: Shafts, Gears,.. ., 1953. This is available online at
A.B. Clymer, "The Mechanical Analog Computers of Hannibal Ford and William Newell," Annals of the History of Computing, 15, #2, 1993, 19-34.
Currently not on view
Object Name
analog computing component
date made
ca 1940
Ford Instrument Company
place made
United States: New York, Queens, Long Island City
overall:.4 cm x 18.7 cm x 18.7 cm; 5/32 in x 7 3/8 in x 7 3/8 in
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Credit Line
Ford Instrument Company, Division of Sperry Rand Corporation
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Mathematics
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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