Turing Machine Build

The other day I was doing some reading on Alan Turing and his classic paper, On computable numbers, with an application to the Entscheidungsproblem, describing what he called “the universal computing machine” and was eventually was known as a “Turing Machine.” This is all basic computer science stuff for most folks though I bet most people I know haven’t read his paper, just hearing about it over the years like I have.

It turns out that a fellow named “Mike Davey” actually built an anachronistic looking Turing Machine a few years ago to try to match the basic design in the paper.

He posted a video of his machine, which makes use of basic electronics, a Parallax Propeller chip, a roll of film, a dry erase marker, a buffer, and some stepper motors to write out and erase ones and zeroes, moving the tape of film lead back and forth. He uses a simple camera as the reading head to read the results back and you’re even able to write programs as text files on an SD card and load them onto the device.

While not a terribly useful device, in an of itself, it seems to be a fun hacking project and something that took quite a bit of thought and building in a practical way.