The Charles Babbage connection
Charles Babbage (1791-1871) was a prolific English scientist with a
huge range of interests. Many biographies are available and two
are provided as links below. Twice he worked on calculating
- By 1822 he had completed a design for his Difference Engine - a powerful automatic mechanical calculator with its own formatting printer.
- By 1870 he had a reasonably consistant set of plans for his very complex Analytical Engine
- an automatic, programmable calculator. This would have been easy to
distinguish from a modern computer by the steam engine required to run
it. Even in a mechanical embodiment the programming concepts were
right up to today.
He never completed his "Engines", but he did show that a programmable
calculating device was conceivable. Virtually all the early computer
builders knew of, and referred to his work. His descendants moved to
Australia and NZ, with a demonstration unit of the Difference Engine, which the Powerhouse museum purchased.
Demonstration model of the Difference Engine mechanism at the Sydney
Powerhouse Museum, Ultimo, in 1996. Present: Prof. Allan Bromley &
Photo by Max Burnet
Powerhouse Museum Information Technology Curator and ACMS member.