The Jacquard is the actual control mechanism of the mechanical machine. It triggers events in all units (except the input, which is controlled manually). It also writes data directly to the Bus.

The name of the Jacquard is derived from the Jacquard attachment, which is a mechanism invented in 1801 that is placed above a loom to automatically select and raise the warp ends in order to automate the weaving of cloth with patterns.

The Clockwork Computer

This website is a placeholder for The Clockwork Computer project.

The Clockwork Computer is a spring driven mechanical computing machine that is approximately 800 mm on all sides and is mounted on a baroque table that adds another 900 mm in height.

Currently the website contains a short story about the machine, a link to the Turing Loom website and a link to the YouTube animation. Eventually the website will be used to store the documentation of the machine including the data book, the schematic and the technical drawings. This website has been put online early to celebrate the centenary year of Alan Turing, but is not scheduled to be updated in the near future.


A Bit of History

By 1684, King Louis XIV had expanded Versailles into one of the largest palaces in the world. The gardens of Versailles, with its grand canal and numerous sculptures, were also home to hundreds of fountains, which needed large amounts of water. A system of 14 paddlewheels, each 12 meter in diameter, powered more than 200 pumps to bring the water from the Seine to Versailles. This machine, known as La Machine de Marly was possibly the largest system of integrated machinery ever assembled to that date.

But there was never enough water to keep all of the fountains running. Despite the huge costs and epic size, the machine failed to deliver enough water to operate all the fountains at the same time.

This was no surprise. Versailles was, after all, a cover up. The true reason Versailles was built, was because of the fountains and the true reason the fountains were build, was because of the Machine of Marly. And the true reason the Machine of Marly was built, was because the French army needed massive amounts of power to compute gunnery tables. Not to animate the gardens with working fountains.

No soul lived in Versailles. The palace was packed with hundreds and thousands of calculators, recently invented by the famous French mathematician Blaise Pascal, cranking out gunnery tables 24 hours a day. It was said that the tables were so good that a canon fired in Paris could hit a cup of tea in the library of the Royal Society in London.

Fast forward to the end of the Second World War. Having helped win the war against Germany, Alan Turing was sent back to 1792 to help England win the war against France [1]. The French army had become so good, that England needed its own computing machine.

After dialing the number for a cold February morning in 1792 and some planetary travel through space and time, Turing arrived right at the doorstep of the library of the Royal Society in London.

"You must be Mr Turing", a charming man said, "we were expecting you.".

Turing came on a mission. England needed gunnery tables and it needed them fast. So, Turing began work immediately. Turing worked around the clock, gathered the best clockmakers in London and after exactly one year of hard work, he presented his machine to the Royal Society. A clockwork computing machine of shiny brass, gears and levers ready to crank out the sophisticated gunnery tables that would make England win the war. His machine was met with wide acclaim.


Backbone of the machine. From top to bottom: data, control and power. Information enters via the diagonal, which is controlled by the Jacquard (not shown).

But that is not how the story ends.

That night, the machine was stolen by the same man Turing had been so pleasantly welcomed by, Mr Charles Babbage. Although Babbage had no idea how the machine worked, he liked playing with it and the machine sometimes even did some interesting things.

With no time left and the treasury mysteriously drained over night, there was no way to build a new machine.

England lost the war and ended up speaking French.


Due to the history changed, Turing was trapped in time and could not return to his previous life. He met a French nobleman and good friend of Lavoisier, with whom he fell madly in love. They married and lived happily ever after.

Babbage also lived happily ever after, but with his machine. He had found ways to use the machine to extract large amounts of money from the government, which he spent on expensive dinner parties and more brass gears. Therefore Babbage is now famously remembered as the great grandfather of the ATM.

In his new life, Babbage did not marry and did not have children. After Babbage's death, the machine was passed on to the French government, who passed it on to the French air force, who put it to good use as autopilot and surveillance machine in one of its hot air balloons.

To cut a long story short, a long time after the war, in the empire of Great France, the machine fell down from the old and aging balloon. In a strange stroke of coincidence, the machine hit Earth at the exact spot where the great great grandson of Bonaparte, Napoleon VII, was eating an afternoon baguette au fromage.

And England won the war after all.


The geartower allows the Jacquard to search for a card in fast forward or fast reverse mode. The cam wheels are disengaged during search. The default mode is run.

The machine was totally destroyed when it hit the ground, but currently a project is ongoing to reconstruct the machine from the damaged parts.

This website is a first attempt to structure this process. The Turing Loom website shows that the machine is Turing Complete. The YouTube video shows one of the first mechanisms that was successfully reconstructed, a mechanism that copies information from one place to another.

As already mentioned before, this website has been put online early to celebrate the centenary year of Alan Turing. It is not scheduled to be updated anytime soon.

[1] The same telephone box was used that Einstein had used in 1905 to test his special theory of relativity.


The websites of The Clockwork Computer are

BulletThe Clockwork Computer
BulletTuring Loom

The animation about the Copy Mechanism can be found at


The Turing Loom website was featured on

BulletBoing Boing

The email address at is


My name can be found below. I am a mechanical engineer living and working in the Netherlands.

SE Peeze Binkhorst (c) 2012