I won't pretend to understand everything this thing is capable of, but from what I can tell it is able to print out various sine functions (like a graphing calculator) but does so by a purely mechanical means.
I gather that you can do two things with the machine. First, the machine will produce various sine waves for you on paper after you set values for the amplitude and phase angle. Second, in a reversal of this process, you can trace a curve and use Fourier analysis to extract the phase and amplitude of the curve.
The Harmonium is the invention of 64-year-old Dutch inventor -- Tatjana van Vark -- who has been building complex gadgetry since she was 14.
Here's a link to a site about The Harmonium Analog Computer
which has tons of gorgeous photographs of the device. This info comes to me by way of the Retro Thing blog
Labels: computer, gears, machine, mechanisms, Netherlands