Monday, December 26, 2011

He's got a lot to answer for................

Born this day in 1791, Charles Babbage was a mathematician
who didn't like mistakes.  "Computers" of his day were people
who did computing, i.e. adding, subtracting, multiplying and
dividing.  Babbage noticed a high error rate in the creation of
numerical tables and logarithms by such human computers. 
Being mechanically oriented and adept, Babbage proposed,
designed, and attempted to build machines that would do such
computing correctly.  He called his first such machine "a
difference engine."  He later attempted to construct an "analytic
engine."  For his efforts he is considered a "father of the

Babbage was also an inventor (the cow-catcher attachment for
the front of locomotives, and an ophthalmoscope), a
cryptographer, a writer, and a philosopher.  His contemporaries
must have been impressed by his smarts, as halves of his brain
are still on display at two London museums.

"Difference Engine No. 2", constructed in1989–91, using Babbage's
plans and 19th century manufacturing tolerances.

Part of Babbage's difference engine, assembled after his death
by Babbage's son, using parts found in his laboratory

images courtesy of wikipedia

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