In Which Hank is the Nerdiest Nerd

In Which Hank is the Nerdiest Nerd


Good morning John. Today’s Vlogbrothers
is going to be a little bit weird. I am right now at an antique mall. I found a thing that
I am so amazed by that I just can’t help but take it apart. It is now in my home! This thing is at least
25 pounds. It’s made entirely of metal, and it can do addition and subtraction and
kind of multiplication. Not really. Obviously, a calculator that can do addition
and subtraction these days is not impressive. But when it was purchased it probably cost
around as much as a really nice laptop today. I don’t know how this works, but that’s
what I’m going to try and figure out today. There are a number of amazing things going
on all at once inside of this machine. First, most simply, let’s just put in the
number 99, that’s 99 cents. Both of the dials will count up to nine. If we add one
to the 99 there, if we add one cent, we’re gonna get a buck right? Now, I know how the first column happens.
There is a pin that tells in the machine that to roll this dial, the first column dial,
one digit. Now that makes sense. But then it gets carried forward and that
is amazing to me. What? How did this machine, that is a just a machine, figure that out? That’s what we wanna know, and as far as I
am concerned, there’s only one way to find out. So let’s take it apart. [music] Ugh. What is this? Is it a dead animal? Something
crawled in there and died like a thousand years ago? Oh I have no idea. But I touched
it. Now this thing comes off and… I got one
of these! I should now be able to lift this off of the mach– I can! It’s fuzzy on the
inside. Oh man. Now this just got way cooler! There’s been
something rolling around in here. I can hear it. It’s a dime! 1980, so it’s not that old. How does it
stop at the right place? How does it carry the number? How does the subtract function
work? Nerdy? Yes. Yes, it’s nerdy. It is very nerdy.
Each one of these parts had to be individually stamped. How do you come off? I hate flat
head screws so much right now. A lot of these screws are really stuck, which
is not all that surprising. You actually have to be depressing a button in order to access
this screw; so that’s something. Were those the only four screws? Yes! Well something’s happened. Whooooaaaaa.
Okay. This is the back of the number plate. When you push each of the numbers, it pops
down into one of those nine slots there. Ah! I got it! I figured it out! When you push
down a number, two things happen. One, that depression will push down this lever a little
bit, and that actually allows for this thing up here, the gear that actually turns the
number wheel, to actually start moving. How much it moves is a question of which key
got pushed down. Whichever button is pushed will actually block that at a certain point
if nothing stops it, it will go all nine, and you get nine. If it stops like half way in the middle then
it stops at five, and it will only count five. So this oil I have on my fingers right now
was put on here by someone in a factory in the 1930s. The numbers are somehow responsible
for the digit carrying. Boy, am I glad I didn’t have to manufacture
these things for a living. I would have not been good at it. So at zero, this notch holds
this pin, and this pin, when you move it out of the way, it just automatically advances.
That pin is the secret. You know, it’s the kind of thing that we
would never make today but it has, in its functionality, a beauty that I am a big fan
of. It does so many things all at once, and it is powered only by the crank of the hand. Thanks to all the people who, uh, you know,
we won’t remember the names of who put all their time and energy into the creation of
these devices. It’s just so very neat. So very, very neat. John, I’ll see you on Tuesday.

100 thoughts on “In Which Hank is the Nerdiest Nerd

  1. Lol I'm legit watching this on a Saturday night instead of going to a party with all the people in my grade…. what has my life become??? really cool vid tho!!!

  2. I remember doing this when I was a kid. It was a fascinating exercise and it was really cool to see the ingenuity of humans.

  3. Watching this was so freaking exciting, as I also LOVE taking machines apart, and in general, learning how they work, both software and hardware-wise.

  4. I'm 2:15 in, and haven't read any comments. My prediction is: he'll tear it apart, won't really figure anything out, and not be able to put it back together.

  5. Functionally, I can't say I'm impressed by this compared to more contemporary technologies–though as Hank rightfully points out the age of it does give some significance to a now rather mundane task–but mechanically that it was one of the most interesting things I have seen broken down like this. The series of events and the precision with which the parts needed to be made to correctly interact is gratifying in some strange way considering that thing was made roughly 60 years before I was born.

  6. They could have used that device for forty years or so. How many 40-ish-year-old computers do people continue to use?

  7. Be still, my merely little heart!
    Now, what Hank did showed observational skills, reasoning ability, and discernment.
    Wisdom (the successful application of knowledge) would entail being able to put it back together…
    Hank…?
    Oh, and for those of you mentioning rotary phones: Hands up everyone who can connect a call using one but without touching the dial… 🙋(puts hand up and grins devilishly).

  8. I'm just fascinated by this because this thing can do simple calculations using only moving parts. Basically, this thing has memory (sorta like ram) but in a physical form. I find that amazing.

  9. It is nerdy. It is beautiful. And it is ONE OF MY GREATEST DREAMS TO BE ABLE TO DO THAT AND NOT PERMANENTLY DESTROY IT.

  10. "He who destroys a thing to find out what it is, has left the path of wizdom." Gandolf
    I'm not saying that I agree with this, I'm just quoting a wizard.

  11. Nice video! It's always good, when you're figuring out how something works, if you have a working example. Much trickier if the machine is jammed, you don't know why, and you don't know how it's supposed to work.

  12. my grandfather, whom I never met, had one of these and I think it's still at my father's cabin I should take it back home next time I'm there.

  13. Dang, this is almost 2 years ago. If anyone watches this on February 27, 2017, reply to this! It's like it's a time capsule…

  14. After watching Hannah Hart struggle to put together a Swiss Army Knife today it gives me a new appreciation for the complexity of this thing. Wow. 😀

  15. I forget this exists sometimes, and then I watch it again, and then it becomes my favorite Vlogbrothers video of all time again.

  16. It's really fun to rewatch this after I did a similar project taking apart a DVR. I remember the excitement and wonder when you have a breakthrough in taking it apart and figuring out how it works. For this project, we then had to put our machines back together in a way that would make it possible to deal cards without touching them, which I would love to see hank do

  17. Does anyone by any chance know what type of camera he was using for the close-up shots? This is a shot in the dark but I'd appreciate if anyone helped me out!

  18. This is sooo cool. (Haven't had a reliable way to watch yt in 2 years, now catching up on Vlogbrothers)

  19. I am not very interested in how this works. but I am very interested and in awe by how passionated you are by this. It is amazing. 🙂 I love passionated people.

  20. I've been watching Vlogbrothers since 2014, when I barely could understand english and definetly needed subtitles, and by far this is one of my favorite videos.

  21. Ok, can I just say that I’m super excited about this video? Because that’s the kind of stuff I do, and my son now gets into (minor, so far) trouble for… absolutely gorgeous interior on that thing.

  22. When I moved into my house I found an old piano and I have always wanted to learn an instrument, so I tried to play it but it didn't work. It was very old nad it wasn't electrical. It ended up with me breaking it down to see how it works and I tried (and failed) to repair it.

  23. I know that we were linked to the Enigma Machine episode of Numberphile, but the concept of this video really reminded me of the Numberphile video of Cliff Stoll (awesome guy!) dismantling this old, bulky calculator that could do multi-digit multiplication and division because the creators managed to pre-set all the times tables into it, (without any type of computer!), and he was able to explain the functionalities and how they did it. It’s so so awesome and please, please, if you enjoyed this you should really check it out!

  24. That video title is easily the most accurate of all your videos, Hank, you UTTER FRIGGING NERD. I LOVE you guys!

  25. * announcer voice * Next time on How It's Made, we're going to have a guest star! Probably one out of two of the nerdiest nerds to ever nerd, Hank Green!

  26. Wooow…. I totally do not care about this. Does it mean that I should not become a history major or does it means that I should not become a mechanical engineering major?

  27. You know you’ve experienced public school when you realize that the background music is Kahoot.it music 😂

  28. This video is beautiful!!! I‘m a maths fan but besides that not really a nerd but that‘s absolutely amazing, I want that machine!!!

  29. A machine that can only do basic arithmetic next to a MacBook; somehow the machine still is more interesting to take apart and look at.

  30. Yes!! More, please.
    I've been a fan of disassembling any type of machine since I was very young – about 4 or 5. Wrist watches were always a special treat; an outboard boat, or lawn mower, motor could keep me enthralled for days.
    Watching your good fun makes me want to go to a junk shop & buy a couple mechanical thingamagigs.
    The sadness: most people have no idea the enjoyment they're missing. (Of course, they may not see it that way!)

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