Charles Babbage designs the Difference Engine but the machine will never be realized. He also start plans for the Analytical engine. But it will be his son that realizes the project in part.
Charles Babbage was born in London on December 26, 1792 (3), the son of Benjamin Babbage, a London banker. As a youth Babbage was his own instructor in algebra, of which he was passionately fond, and was well-read in the continental mathematics of his day. Upon entering Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1811, he found himself far in advance of his tutors in mathematics.
With Herschel, Peacock, and others, Babbage founded the Analytical Society for promoting continental mathematics and, reforming the mathematics of Newton, then taught at the university.
In his twenties Babbage worked as a mathematician, principally in the calculus of functions. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society, in 1816, and played a prominent part in the foundation of the Astronomical Society (later Royal Astronomical Society) in 1820. It was about this time that Babbage first acquired the interest in calculating machinery that became his consuming passion for the remainder of his life.
Throughout his life Babbage worked in many intellectual fields typical of his day, and made contributions that would have assured his fame irrespective of the Difference and Analytical Engines.
Prominent among his published works are:
Babbage occupied the Lucasian chair of mathematics at Cambridge from 1828 to 1839. He played an important role in the establishment of the Association for the Advancement of Science and the Statistical Society (later Royal Statistical Society).
Despite his many achievements, the failure to construct his calculating machines, and in particular the failure of the government to support his work, left Babbage in his declining years a disappointed and embittered man. He died at his home in Dorset Street, London, on October 18, 1871.
Born in Teignmoth, Devonshire, UK
Starts mathematical studies in Trinity College Cambridge
Married Georgiana Withmore, they will have 3 sons and 1 daughter
Member of the Royal Society
Traveled to France with Herschel and met with important mathematicians. Gaspard de Prony will influence his later work on the D.E.
Cofounder of the Astronomical Society,
Publishing of functions of the Difference Engine and first operational model of the D.E.
Construction of a full scale DE
First and only attempt in fundraising by creating life expectancy tables for an insurance company
Babbage's father (Benjamin Babbage), his second son and his wife all died in this year.
Extended Europe tour,
Second design of the Difference Engine
Redesign of control mechanisms of the Difference Engine,
Construction of DE ceased due to a financial based conflict between Babbage and the engineer Clement
The basic ideas for the Analytical Engine were formulated; later recognized as the foundations of the universal calculating machine
Introduction of punched cards into the A.M.
Babbage engaged into the dispute on the width of railroad tracks
Different designs of or changes to the A.M. were made
Ada Lovelace starts to translate the public address of Luigi Menebrea on the A.E. and added notes
Babbage wrote the ballet "Alethes and Iris" to get familiar with and study theater lighting.
Construction work on the Analytical machine ends, but writing and explanations on the AE continued.
The designs for Difference Engine No.2 were ready
Babbages suddenly continued the design of the Analytical Engine and started to produce experimental models of his AE
When his death occurred a model of a simple mill and printing mechanism was all that was made of this grand genius's idea of the AE
Babbage died embittered in his home in London, UK
Honors and Awards
Elected Fellow of the Royal Society - 1816
First gold medal of the Astronomical Society of London
|Last Updated on March 8, 2013||For suggestions please mail the editors|
Footnotes & References
|1||from Babbage's Calculating Engines, The Charles Babbage Institute Reprint Series for the History of Computing; v. 2 (1982).|
|2||Museum Industrielle Arbeitswelt, Steyr, 1994, ISBN 3-900971-14-5. p. 6|
|3||note of eds., Bromley actually got this wrong; his birth year is regarded as 1791|
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