The New Haven Register has reported on how a little known mechanical calculator, the Curta calculator, could make a comeback with the aid of nanotechnology.
The Curta calculator was a mechanical marvel invented by Curt Herzstark while in a Nazi concentration camp. After the war 120 000 Curtas were made in Liechtenstein before cheap electronic calculated superseded them in the 1970s. The Curta was a cylindrical device 4 inches tall with a crank on top and around 600 parts.
Now that nanosized gears and machines are being made, it could be possible to revive the Curta on a nanoscale. Micromechanical computer chips could be manufactured that consist of 500 000 tiny mechanical calculators. They would need linking and programming but when compared with digital computers, power requirements would be modest and they would not generate the heat of modern computers.