Archives for August 2021


Wellington is home to WETA workshop who create weird and wonderful creatures for movies so it comes as no surprise that the city is also home to some other unusual exhibits.

The hydro-mechanical MONIAC is an eccentric machine made to evaluate the world economy using water and a labyrinth of tubes all housed in a water tight glass cabinet.

Born in 1914 and brought up on a New Zealand dairy farm, Bill Phillips is regarded today as one of the 20th century’s greatest economists. In 1937, he arrived in Britain via China and the Trans-Siberian Railway. After receiving an MBE for his wartime efforts and awarded a New Zealand Forces scholarship, he attended the London School of Economics studying sociology and then economics. In1949, he built a financephalograph, also known as the Phillips Hydraulic Computer but later called the MONIAC which stands for ‘Monetary National Income Analogue Computer’ (phew!) The weird apparatus was his clever way of demonstrating the macro economy to his students at the London School of Economics. He built his water powered computer for around £400 in his landlady’s garage with parts scavenged from a Lancaster bomber and other obsolete war equipment. Using water to represent money, the massive hydraulic model of a national economy was, in its day, the most complex, and wettest, economics computer in the world. read more