I remember first using a computer in High School in 1971. Actually a lot of people don't believe me when I tell them there wasn't any computer monitors/screens back then. It was just a keyboard, modem and printer. You used the modem to connect to the main frame computer which was on the other side of town.
Anyway, I only learned of tertiary computers from George Brandes and until last month actually thought it was his idea. Of course, it being the cold war and everything, the Russian's were just a bunch of "ignorant commies" that couldn't do anything except build nuclear bombs, put them on missles and point them at the US.
A wood base 3 calculator was built in 1840 by Dr. Thomas Fowler MD of "Fowler's Solution" fame, an arsenic based medicine known for it's documented side effects: cirrhosis of the liver, idiopathic portal hypertension, urinary bladder cancer, skin cancers. There really isn't much know about this, whether it actually existed, worked, or created more work converting between base 3 and base 10 than it eliminated in calculations.
The Russian Setun was a balanced ternary computer developed in 1958. This might explain how the Russians put a satellite into space before the Americans.
Which gets me to this design I put together in 2000. Essentially, that was about 30 years between learning of ternary logic and concieving a physical model. It was another 6 years before I was able to correct the math and determine that a circuit MIGHT be made with four inputs: low, zero, high and ground. Or -1,0, 1 and ground. What escaped me for six years is that it also would have 16 outputs, which means such a circuit would be compatible with hexadecimal right down at the lowest circuit level.
The interesting thing is that this type of design would be hundreds of times faster and hundreds of times more efficient, in terms of lightning fast speeds and mere fractions of memory. Thankfully, so far I've just been met with total stone deaf silence, not a peep of derision or scorn.
So that's probably the future, you won't see it though. Frankly, I don't know if this is practical or will even work, nor do I know the next step to take. But, from my 20 years in solar energy I do know there's zero interest unless you can or will say 'yes' to the first question out of every bodies mouth: "Can I get rich...?"
First off I know the answer is NO, because even if there was a working model, patent laws are such in the United States, that only those owned by certain Delaware Holding Companies are ever upheld in the US Courts. I always find that sick, when various big wheels complain about "intellectual property" rights in China or Pakistan or the Sudan... What goes around comes around.