An Embroidered Computer
Written by David Conrad   
Sunday, 20 January 2019

Built solely from a variety of metal threads and magnetic, glass and metal beads, the embroidered computer is described as an exploration using historic gold embroidery materials and knowledge to craft a programmable 8-bit computer.


We have encountered computers created from unusual materials before. When you compare this one to those built with fluids or slime mould or soldier crabs, you may think that it is a pretty straightforward analog of computer circuitry - but it is very pretty.

The schematic for the computer logic makes it all seem quite familiar:


Funded by the Austrian Science Fund's Programme for Arts-based Research (PEEK), the Embroidered Computer was created by Irene Posch and Ebru Kurbak and is installed at the Angewandte Innovation Lab in Vienna.

According to Irene Posch, who describes herself as a researcher and artist with a background in media and computer science:. 

"Technically, the piece consists of (textile) relays, similar to early computers before the invention of semiconductors. Visually, the gold materials, here used for their conductive properties, arranged into specific patterns to fulfill electronic functions, dominate the work. Traditionally purely decorative, their pattern here defines they function. They lay bare core digital routines usually hidden in black boxes. Users are invited to interact with the piece in programming the textile to compute for them."

This view of the underside of the fabric shows how the connections to the braided power lines go through it to the gold embroidery on top:




Individual relays switch, and consequently pass through signals to perform computation based on the instructions given by simple programs: 

 bead 2 detail



More Information

The Embroidered Computer

Related Articles

Liquid Computers 

A Water Droplet-Based Computer 

A Crab-Based Computer 

Pulleys As Logic Gates 

Slime mould simulates Canadian transport system 

To be informed about new articles on I Programmer, sign up for our weekly newsletter, subscribe to the RSS feed and follow us on, Twitter, Facebook or Linkedin.



SIGGRAPH 2019 Kicks Off

Siggraph 2019 started today and runs to August 1st. No doubt there will be some interesting things to look at. Here is a preview of what is on offer.

Remote Working Works

The focus of the 2019 GitLab Developer Survey was DevOps. It attracted responses from over 4,000 software professionals across various industries, roles, and geographic locations and here are som [ ... ]

More News





or email your comment to:

Last Updated ( Sunday, 20 January 2019 )