Are computers machines?

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by senseless, Feb 20, 2010.

  1. senseless macrumors 68000

    senseless

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    #1
    Some refer to computers as "machines", but is this correct? A machine is a mechanical device like a "washing machine" or an "adding machine", right?
     
  2. miles01110 macrumors Core

    miles01110

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    #2
  3. [DL] macrumors 6502

    [DL]

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  4. ucfgrad93 macrumors P6

    ucfgrad93

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  5. Jaro65 macrumors 68040

    Jaro65

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    #7
    It is all a matter of definition. A modern washing machine is as much of a mechanical device as it is an electronic device.

    The mechanical machines have been around for far longer than the electronic ones and so when we think of a "machine", we think of gears, pulleys, wheels, combustion...and what have you. It is only our mental definition of what a machine is that need updating.

    So yes, the computers are nothing more, and nothing less, than machines.
     
  6. Sun Baked macrumors G5

    Sun Baked

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    #9
    The original computers looked a lot more like machines than those of today. Their gears and pulleys have transformed from physical devices to nearly all electronic devices, but some traditional machines have followed similar paths also with their reduction in moving parts.

    All depends on the line you want to draw the line since computers use energy to transform data ... instead of using energy to perform physical work, store energy, or transform energy/work into different forms.
     
  7. cube macrumors G5

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    #10
    Computers are not lifeforms. You can't draw the line anywhere else.
     
  8. senseless thread starter macrumors 68000

    senseless

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    #11
    By definition, a pocket radio is a machine too?
     
  9. cube macrumors G5

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  10. chown33 macrumors 604

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    #13
    According to some definitions, yes.

    Personally, I draw the line at automation. Electronic devices that embody automation in some form are machines. Electronic devices that don't embody automation are not. Even that's not a perfectly clear line, though.

    A radio receiver that automatically tunes different frequencies, depending on its location, say, I would call automated. Or one that turns itself on at a given time (e.g. clock radio).

    However, a radio receiver that uses a microcontroller for sensing input keys and driving its display, I would not call automated, hence not a machine, even though it might have more computational power at its disposal than a clock radio.


    Also, the term "machine" has a historical element. Finite State Machines (or Finite State Automata) are a class of computational devices. Another term is Turing Machine. You can look those up on Wikipedia for more info.
     
  11. dukebound85 macrumors P6

    dukebound85

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    #14
    no, a computer is a vegetable
    of course:confused:
     
  12. Jaro65 macrumors 68040

    Jaro65

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    #15
    Yes. Of course it is.
     
  13. bobob macrumors 68030

    bobob

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    #16
    Pocket radio?!?

    Has this thread been caught in a time warp from the 50's?
     
  14. Dagless macrumors Core

    Dagless

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    #17
    My radio is most certainly a machine too ;).
    [​IMG]
     
  15. siurpeeman macrumors 603

    siurpeeman

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    #18
    it looks like a pokemon ball that needs a hug.
     

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