Computers before electronic computers.

Posted: February 12, 2011 in Random facts and WTFs

Okay, let’s make another post about rockets.

You didn’t like Math at school? Well, prepare to be WOWed.

During WWII, US military was employing hundreds of female mathematicians countrywide who were working many hours per day, 6 days per week, usually using paper and pencils only, solving complex equations by differential calculus and creating tables that were later used in artillery for computation of shell trajectories.

The official job title for these people in US was (yeah, that’s right) computers. A computer, in the original mining of this word, is a person who computes things.

Other countries were also employing this method.

What’s interesting, people, who were studying at Soviet Universities back in 1960’s -1980’s, say that they were suppose to solve differential equations and compute trajectories of ballistic missiles “by hands”, using only pencils and paper, despite the availability of electronic computers and calculators. If an answer presented by a student was too exact, it could easily get discredited as cheating.

Try to guess why Soviet students were tortured in that way! The logic behind this was quite simple: in case if a war with America breaks out, people should be able to do calculations for artillery even in the absence of electricity.

That’s no-calculator-riles for you, people.


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