One of my students, Cameron Flint, spent part of the semester constructing a virtual tour of Leibniz’s Calculating Maching using software called Blender (his honors project for Calculus).

You can see his virtual rendering and animation of the functioning Calculating Machine on Cameron’s website Open Development. To be fair, Cameron says it’s not done yet … just a work in progress. But I thought it was quite good, and I wanted him to share what he has done so far with the rest of the mathematics community.

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Very cool. I actually did a very similar project back in 1996 using SGI machines and openGL/GL, which was the best we had at the time. It took me over a week to render enough frames for a 5 minute video that I stitched together onto a striped VHS tape. I left it with the University of Calgary’s Computer Science history professor with the hopes he would show it to further classes. The animation I did showed the entire machine minus the chassis with various calculations being done on it and how the stars gears had to be reset after each calculation..