Charles Babbage Born This Day In 1791
Written by Historian   
Thursday, 26 December 2013

Today we celebrate the birth of Charles Babbage, the man who invented calculating machines that, although they were never realised in his lifetime, are rightly see as the forerunners of modern programmable computers.

Babbage conceived the idea of his Difference Engine in order to compute the values of polynomial functions without the need for multiplication and division.

Although parts of a prototype were constructed he moved on to an even more elaborate machine, the Analytical Engine that went even further than mechanised arithmetic and would permit general purpose computation. This machine was programmable and with the help of Ada Lovelace programs were written for it.

 

Babbage40

 Charles Babbage
(December 26, 1791- October 18, 1871)

 

Charles Babbage was born in Surrey on Boxing Day 1791. He was  the son of a banker, which may have been the source of his fascination with numbers, but whatever the reason he occupied the Lucasian chair of mathematics at Cambridge from 1828 to 1839.

To characterise Babbage as a mathematician is misleading because his interests were much more wide ranging - a polymath is closer.

The story of his life, his Difference Engine and Analytical Engine can be found in our history article, Charles Babbage - The First Computer Visionary.

Related articles:

What if Babbage..   the story of what might have happened if Babbage had managed to complete his great work.

Plans to build Babbage's Analytical Engine

Babbage Archive Digitized

Babbage Difference Engine In Gigapixels

Ada Lovelace, The First Programmer

Computer Memory and Pigeonholes

 

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