Biography Of Charles Babbage

Biography Of Charles Babbage


Charles Babbage (26 Dec 1791 – 18 Oct 1871) was an English mathematician and philosopher who invented the concept of the programmable computer.

“The entire of arithmetic is now within the grasp of mechanism.”

– Charles Babbage (1864) Passages from the Life of a Philosopher ch. 8 of the Analytical Engine

Babbage was born in 1791 in London, England. He was a child who had many tutors and schools. He also developed a passion for mathematics. He was admitted to Trinity College, Cambridge in 1810. Later, he transferred to Peterhouse in Cambridge where he was awarded an honorary degree in mathematics.

He was disappointed by the quality of maths education at Cambridge and joined the Analytical Society, a group of like-minded students who are interested in mathematics research. He first thought of the idea of trying to do calculations using a machine while he was a student. After looking at the logarithm table (many of them wrong), he decided it would be more efficient to work them out systematically.

“Mr. “Mr. Many discrepancies arose over time, to the point where I exclaimed, “I wish to God these calculations had taken place by steam!” Herschel responded, “It is possible.”

Charles Babbage (1821), on maths table errors. Computers are people who perform computations. This is quoted in Harry Wilmot Buxton and Anthony Hyman’s Memoir about the Life and Labours Of The Late Charles Babbage.

Biography Of Charles Babbage


Biography Of Charles Babbage


He began work on his “difference engine” in 1822. It was designed to automatically compute calculations. They were never completed, just like many Babbage machines. His personality and the fact that his funding was often cut short were two reasons why. Babbage wasn’t always the most effective communicator of ideas and could dismiss the people funding him. Babbage often had a frosty relationship with those he wanted to impress.

“On two occasions Pray, Mr. Babbage was asked Will the correct answers come out? In one case, a member from the Upper House and in the second, a member from the Lower House put the question. It is difficult for me to understand the confusion of ideas that might lead to such a question.

Babbage (1864), Passages from the Life of a Philosopher. ch. 5 “Difference engine No. 1”

Nevertheless, a different engine was later built in 1991 to Babbage’s specifications and it was proved to work. A printer designed by Babbage was later built too. Although Babbage’s machines were mechanical, they had some similarities to modern-day computers. They had separated memory, and I/O units and the control unit could make progressive jumps. Babbage was also aided by an assistant Ada Lovelace (the daughter of Lord Byron) Lovelace was gifted in mathematics and worked on the programming aspect of Babbage’s computer.


Biography Of Charles Babbage


Babbage was awarded the Gold Medal by the Royal Astronomical Society in 1824.

“For his invention of an engine to calculate mathematical and astronomical tables”.

He was averse to honors and refused a baronetcy and knighthood.

He worked at Cambridge as a maths lecturer after completing his degree. The government also hired him to create a programmable computer. Although he received significant funding, the government eventually stopped funding him because they could not see a finished product. He is considered a significant inventor for his models which were almost complete. However, many of them were scrapped. He is considered the “Father” of computers.

Babbage was a genius in his understanding of how computers could revolutionize the way that calculations are done. His optimism was not shared by all his peers.

“An Analytical Engine will guide the science’s future as soon as it is available.” The machine will be able to calculate any result that is requested by it.

Babbage (1864). Passages From the Life of a Philosopher. ch. 8 “Of The Analytical Engine.”

Biography Of Charles Babbage


He also invented computers. For example, a pilot or cowcatcher that could be attached to the engines of locomotives to catch rail obstacles. These inventions were popular in America. He worked at Brunel’s Great Western Railways several times.

In 1814, Babbage wed Georgiana Whitmore. Eight children were born to the couple, but only four of them survived childhood. Babbage, who was 79 years old, died in 1871.


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