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Mr. Pedantic analog vs. digital retraction

a guest May 29th, 2012 178 Never
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  1. As Mr. Pedantic, I must issue a retraction. The Oxford English Dictionary has informed me that "analog" has never been used to describe discrete counting mechanisms. In fact one of the earliest usages in a computing sense is from Mauchly (designer, with Eckert, of ENIAC):
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  3. "Computing machines may be conveniently classified as either ‘analog’ or ‘impulse’ types. The analog devices use some sort of analogue or analogy, such as Ohm's Law‥, to effect a solution of a given equation. [Note] I am indebted to Dr. J. V. Atanasoff of Iowa State College for the classification and terminology here explained." - 1941 J. W. Mauchly Diary 15 Aug. in Ann. Hist. Computing (1984) 6 131/2
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  5. The pulse train system employed in ENIAC would be considered 'impulse', specifically not 'analog'. The modern, common use of "digital" as implicitly meaning "discrete" is attested to around the same time:
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  7. "In the transmission of direct current digital impulses over a long line the characteristics of the line tend to mutilate the wave shape." - 1940 U.S. Patent 2,207,537 1/1
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  9. This supplanted the long historical use of "digital" in reference to a number system using digits.
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  11. So, carry on. I'll have to track down where I got this erroneous impression from.
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