Analog Computing Component - Flat Ballistic Cam

Analog Computing Component - Flat Ballistic Cam

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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. The output is the motion of a follower along the working surface of the cam. In this particular cam, the outer edge of the cam serves as the working surface, so that the radius of the cam is the output.
According to the accession file, this cam was used on the U.S. Navy's Mark VIII Range Keeper. Documentation on this device dates from 1932 until at least 1945, suggesting the date of the object.
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 1930-1945
Ford Instrument Company
place made
United States: New York, Queens, Long Island City
overall:.6 cm x 16 cm x 11.2 cm; 1/4 in x 6 5/16 in x 4 13/32 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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