Heathkit EC-1 Electric Analog Computer

The word ‘analog’ has come to describe things that aren’t ‘digital.’ This includes vinyl records and cassette tapes, old music amplifiers and radios, some music synthesizers—any device where the output is derived non-digitally. The term ‘analog computer’ fits the description, too; an analog computer performs all of its processing non-digitally. Interestingly, the term ‘analog’ used to mean something else, too. It was short for ‘analogous,’ and described systems that could faithfully represent others.

A roadmap is an example of an analogous system. You can trace out a path on a map, and you can calculate the distance to be traveled on a map. But, you don’t travel on the map. The map is an analog for the real world. In the same vein, an analog computer can model the real world. It