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Analog Computer – Types, Advantages, and Disadvantages

December 8, 2022

Analog computers are devices that use electrical signals to perform calculations instead of using binary numbers. These types of computers were first invented in the 1940s and have been used in many different industries.

image showing the analog computer

An analog computer uses continuous variables such as voltage or current to represent numbers. Digital computers store information using discrete values, such as 0 or 1. The difference between analog computers and digital computers lies in their way of processing data.

Analog computers are usually slower than digital computers because they require a large number of calculations to perform simple tasks. They also tend to be less reliable and accurate. However, they are easier to program and control.

Analog computers are devices that perform mathematical calculations using electrical signals instead of binary digits (bits). They are also known as analog computers or electronic analog computers.

Analog computers are useful because they allow us to solve problems that would otherwise require too much computing power. For example, they can calculate complex functions such as trigonometric, logarithmic, exponential, and even transcendental functions.

Analog computers are often used in scientific research, engineering, and other fields where speed and accuracy are important. In addition, they are also used in some applications such as robotics, medical imaging, and industrial control systems.

Types of Analog Computer

There are different types of analog computers which are given below:

Slide Rule

A slide rule is a mechanical calculator invented by John Napier in 1614. A slide rule consists of two parallel scales, each divided into 100 equal parts. One scale represents the numerator and the other represents the denominator. By sliding the rule along its edge, the user can multiply or divide numbers.

Differential Analyzer

Differential analyzers are devices that measure the difference between two signals. These instruments were first developed in the 1930s and have been widely used. Differential analyzers are used to measure small differences in voltage, current, frequency, phase angle, etc.

The Castle Clock

The castle clock was invented by James Watt in 1765. It measures time using pendulums that swing back and forth at different rates depending on the pendulum’s length. The longer the pendulum, the slower the rate of oscillation. The faster the pendulum swings, the faster the rate of oscillation, and thus the shorter the period of oscillation.

Electronic Analog Computers

An electronic analog computer is a device that performs mathematical calculations based on electrical signals. In contrast to digital computers, where information is represented by 0s and 1s, analog computers use continuous values.

Electronic Analog Computers

Electronic analog computers are similar to their mechanical counterparts except they do not require any moving parts. Instead, they rely on electric currents to represent numerical data.

Hydraulic Analog Computer

Hydraulic analog computers are designed to perform complex mathematical operations. They consist of a series of valves that control the flow of water. As the valve opens or closes, the water flowing through the system changes. This change in volume causes a corresponding change in pressure. Pressure sensors detect these changes in pressure and convert them into numerical values.

Real-life examples of Analog Computer

There are many uses of an analog computer in real life which are given below:


An analog speedometer is a device that displays the current speed of a vehicle using a needle or dial. They are often found on cars, trucks, motorcycles, boats, and other vehicles. The needle moves back and forth across the face of the dial to show the vehicle’s speed.

image showing the speedometer

Analog Clock

An analog clock has moving hands and hours marked from 1 to 12 to show you the time. Some have Roman numerals and some have Arabic numbers, instead only relying on the positioning of the hands and what angle they’re at to indicate the time.

image showing the analog clock

The other examples of analog computers are:

  • Thermometer
  • Seismometer
  • Voltmeter
  • Flight Simulators
  • Tide Predictors

Advantages of Analog Computer

The primary advantage of an analog computer is it can display the output in simple and graphical manners within a short time period. Digital computers need complex programs to be transmitted in real-time, whereas analog computers can easily be transmitted in real-time.

Disadvantages of Analog Computer

  • They consume much power.
  • Less probability to store its result for future uses because Its result is displayed only in real-time
  • There is a higher rate of signal conversion, which is shown inside.