6-bit binary adder

Posted by Dan on Mar 19th, 2008
2008
Mar 19

Here is a 6-bit binary adder built out of wood. It uses marbles for bits, and gravity for power. Cool! And it doesn’t crash as often as Vista.

How early could something like this have been built? The Greeks could certainly have managed the construction; the Antikythera device (100 BC or so) is much more complicated. Binary arithmetic, in its modern form with the ones and zeros, dates to Leibnitz in 1703. But as far as I can tell, the first binary adders were build out of relays in 1937.

In 1937, Claude Shannon produced his master’s thesis at MIT that implemented Boolean algebra and binary arithmetic using electronic relays and switches for the first time in history.