The MONIAC

An introduction to Kiwi economist BIll Philips' amazing water-powered economic computer, on display in the Reserve Bank Museum and Education Centre.

Making Money Flow

A short video revealing the workings and history of the amazing MONIAC

A short video revealing the workings and history of the amazing MONIAC

About the MONIAC

About the MONIAC

The MONIAC water-powered computer was invented in the late 1940s by talented Kiwi economist BIll Phillips, primarily as a teaching tool.

One of a generation of twentieth century mechanical computing machines, MONIAC has some claim to being the world’s first econometric computer. It could carry out calculations unable to be performed by any other computer at the time, and while other machines of its era used cogs, gears and Meccano parts, the MONIAC used water to model flows of money in a macro-economy.

The linkages were based on Keynesian and classical economic principles, with various tanks representing households, business, government, exporting and importing sectors of the economy. Water pumped around the system could be measured as income, spending and GDP.

The system was programmable, and experiments with fiscal policy, monetary policy and exchange rates could be carried out.

The MONIAC in the Reserve Bank Museum was originally calibrated for the British economy, and is the only MONIAC known to be in working order in the southern hemisphere.

The Reserve Bank's MONIAC

The machine in the Reserve Bank Museum and Education Centre is the first production MONIAC. It was donated to the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research by the London School of Economics in 1987 and restored to working order in 1991.

It was refurbished again in 2003 before being displayed as part of a New Zealand display at the 50th Venice Bienniale of Contemporary Art, a significant international exhibition.

The Institute kindly loaned the MONIAC to the Reserve Bank Museum in 2006, and it underwent further restoration before being put on display in mid-2007.

The Moniac rebuild, 2007