Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Mercury Delay Lines

When I read this line in the article, my heart literally skipped a beat: "There were tanks of mercury (Mercury Delay Lines) where data was stored as sound waves for memory."

This is one of those days I wish I didn't have to do any actual work... all I want to do is spend hours going down the Wikipedia rabbit hole reading about these 'Mercury Delay Lines' and the alchemy of early computing.


  1. Huh, funny, I never knew that the mercury computer in Neal Stephenson's Cryptonomicon was based in fact.

  2. Now we just have to work Red Mercury into this. :)

    I've always liked that story of the UNIVAC calling the election. Of course, given the amount of money Eisenhower's government would spend on computer research and construction, one could fairly accuse the UNIVAC of a conflict of interest.

  3. This line in the wikipedia article on mercury delay lines made me snerk in sad amusement:

    "Alan Turing proposed the use of gin as an ultrasonic delay medium, claiming that it had the necessary acoustic properties."

    I can just picture poor Alan sitting by a fire in an overstuffed leather chair, tapping his crystal drinks glass for hours on end, watching the ripples propagate. "Scotch? Nah. Vodka? Nope. Gin? Hey, waitaminnit..."