The LEGO Turing Machine Gives a Quick Primer on How Your Computer Works

This past Saturday, we celebrated the centennial of Alan Turing’s birth by presenting two films that explore the life and achievements of the great mathematician/father of computer science: Dangerous Knowledge and Breaking the Code. Today, before the anniversary fades into the background, let us send one more film your way — this one a “short documentary” that brings Turing’s famous computing machine to life. The device, as Turing imagined it in 1936, was meant to simulate the logic of computer algorithms, revealing the extent and limits of what can be computed. Turing never built the machine. He only offered a conceptual blueprint. But two researchers at the Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica in Amsterdam have kindly recreated the Turing Machine with LEGO, and then produced a short film demonstrating how the machine carries out the most basic functions of your computer. Watch it go.

You can find more information on the building and inner-workings of the LEGO Turing Machine here.

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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.