Coloured water

Happy New Year an’ all that.

Phillips Machine
We went to the science museum today to have a look at this.

It’s a model of the economy made with pipes and valves and tanks and bits of wire. Wonderful! I’ve passed it by in my previous visits to the Science Museum. And today, while I sat on the floor peering into its case, several other visitors pushed the big, red button on the video machine next to it only to wander off when the voice announced “In this computer, money is represented by coloured water”

I tried to imagine coloured water flowing through the valves and pipes (it’s not been run since 1991, to preserve the mechanism) and took these pics with the amazing camera on Nic’s ‘phone, including this one of a cartoon of the machine from Punch magazine in 1953:

Phillips Machine Cartoon


  1. NGN Says:

    … not forgetting the splendid animation of “the profit cycle” – or some such title – I saw after you’d recommended the Cabaret Mechanical Theatre :-}

    Happy New Year, and when will you be heading north?

  2. Mark Says:

    Hey Niels

    What exactly was it you saw animated? Where can I get to see it? Was it actually at the automaton museum in Covent Garden? That’s long gone now I fear.

  3. PRN Says:

    Thanks for the great photo of the cartoon – the one I took at the Science Museum yesterday was no good. I predict analogue computers will be a thing of the future now digital computers are hitting the quantum mechanical buffers of Moore’s Law – far more efficient and good approximations will always be good enough for Government work.. :7

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