The MONIAC, or Monetary National Income Analogue Computer, was invented in 1949 by New Zealand engineer and economist, Alban William Housego 'Bill' Phillips. Also known as the 'Phillips Machine' and the 'Financephalograph', the MONIAC is an hydraulic analogue computer, designed to model the macroeconomic calculations that determine the functioning of the economy. Using coloured water to represent money, the MONIAC was able to simulate the broad relationships between nine variables in the economy using adjustable functions, and visually display the resulting effects of changing these variables on interest rates, gross domestic product, and the level of imports and exports.
The University of Melbourne's MONIAC was purchased in 1953 and arrived in Melbourne in 1954. The cost of the machine was £995 Australian pounds, and was a 'Type II' MONIAC, a version more developed than the original 'Type I' prototype. It originally resided in a classroom in the Old Commerce Building, positioned in a shower-like base and attached to a water supply. The machine was used mostly to demonstrate macroeconomic theory to Honours students and brought out on Open Days to entice students to study economics at the University.
Approximately twelve MONIACs were created and most were purchased by universities. Of this dozen or so MONIACS produced, five are known to be in existence today, and only two of these are still fully functional. The University of Melbourne's MONIAC is currently non-operational, nevertheless it has been a much-loved part of the Faculty since it first came to Melbourne in the 1950s and today it continues to attract interest across the University and in the wider community.
View a demonstration of the MONIAC held by the Reserve Bank Museum & Education Centre, Wellington, New Zealand:
For further information on the MONIAC contact Bernard Lyons, E: firstname.lastname@example.org, T: (03) 9035 6404.