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strong enough to move the valve. In this case, the difference

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that makes a difference is the difference in water pressure suf­

ficient to switch the valve on. And since a weakened signal

entering an input will still produce a full-strength output, we

can connect thousands of layers of logic, the output of one

layer controlling the next. without worrying about a gradual

decrease in pressure. The output of each gate will always be at

full pressure.

This type of design is called restoring logic, and the exam­

ple in hydraulic technology is particularly interesting, because

it corresponds almost exactly to the logic used in modern elec­

tronic computers. The water pressure in the pipes is analo­

gous to the voltage on the wires, and the hydraulic valve is

analogous to the metal-oxide transistor. The control, input,

and output connections on the valve correspond closely to the

three connections (called gate, source, and drain) on a transis­

tor. The analogy between water valves and transistors is so

exact that you could translate the design for a modern micro­

processor directly into a design for a hydraulic computer. To

do so, you would need to look at the pattern of wires on the

silicon chip under a microscope and then bend a set of pipes

into the same shapes as the wires on the chip and connect

them in exactly the same pattern. In place of each transistor,

you would use a hydraulic valve. The pipe that corresponds to

the power-supply voltage on your chip would be connected to

a pressurized water supply, and the pipe that corresponds to

the ground connection could empty down a drain.

To use the hydraulic computer, you would have to connect

hydraulic equivalents of its inputs and outputs-you would

need to build a hydraulic keyboard, a hydraulic display,

hydraulic memory chips, and so on-but if you did all this, it

would go through exactly the same switching events as the

electronic chip. Of course, the hydraulic computer would be

much slower than your latest microprocessor (to say nothing

of larger), because water pressure travels down pipes much

more slowly than electricity travels down wires. As to the

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