Posted December 25th, 2013
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Charles Babbage, (26 December 1791 – 18 October 1871) was an English polymath. He was a mathematician, philosopher, inventor and mechanical engineer, who is best, remembered now for originating the concept of a programmable computer. He is considered as the father of Engineer and is credited with the invention of first mechanical computer.

According to the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography,he was born at 44 Crosby Row, Walworth road, London, England. Babbage was one of four children of Benjamin Babbage and Betsy Plumleigh Teape.

Babbage arrived at Trinity college in Cambridge, in October 1810, however, he was disappointed by the standard mathematical instruction available at the university of Cambridge. As a student, Babbage was also a member of other societies such as The Ghost Club, concerned with investigating supernatural phenomena, and the Extractors Club, dedicated to liberating its members from the madhouse, should any be committed to one. He was a top mathematician in Cambridge, however didn’t completed his graduation in Honors as was awarded his degree without giving the Examination.

 Astronomical Society in 1820. Its initial aims were to reduce astronomical calculations to a more standard form, and to circulate data. These directions were closely connected with Babbage's ideas on computation, and in 1824 he won its Gold medal, cited "for his invention of an engine for calculating mathematical and astronomical tables".

The Analytical Society had initially been no more than an undergraduate provocation. During this period it had some more substantial achievements. In 1816 Babbage, Herschel and Peacock published a translation from French of the lectures of Sylvestre Lacroix, which was then the state-of-the-art calculus textbook. Reference to Lagrange in calculus terms marks out the application of what are now called formal power series. British mathematicians had used them from about 1730 to 1760.

As re-introduced, they were not simply applied as notations in differential calculus. They opened up the fields of Functional Equations (including the differential equations fundamental to the difference engine) and operator (D-module) methods for differential Equations

division of labour As Babbage himself noted, it had already appeared in the work of Melchiorre Gioia in 1815.  The term was introduced in 1974 by Harry Braverman. Related formulations are the "principle of multiples" of Philip Sargant Florence, and the "balance of processes". 

species , rather than continually interfering with ad hocmiracles each time a new species was required. In Vestiges the parallel with Babbage's computing machines is made explicit, as allowing plausibility to the theory that transmutation of species could be pre-programmed.

A project announced by Babbage was to tabulate all physical constants (referred to as "constants of nature", a phrase in itself a neologism), and then to compile an encyclopedic work of numerical information. He was a pioneer in the field of "absolute measurement”.


Babbage's machines were among the first mechanical computers. That they were not actually completed was largely because of funding problems and personality issues.

Babbage directed the building of some steam-powered machines that achieved some modest success, suggesting that calculations could be mechanized. For more than ten years he received government funding for his project, which amounted to £17,000, but eventually the Treasury lost confidence in him.

There is a green plaque commemorating the 40 years Babbage spent at 1 Dorset St, London.


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