Go Backindex biographiesgo to home pagesearch this site
Charles Babbage

December 26, 1791 Teignmouth, Devonshire, UK
October 18, 1871, London, UK

Babbage_young.gif (7120 bytes)
Charles Babbage


principal papers
see main text

hardware

difference enigne
difference machine

software
.

 

keyords
difference engine
analytical engine

 

see also

 

related subjects
Ada Lovelace, Difference Engine, Analytical engine, Science Museum London

Achievement

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.

Biography

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:

  • A Comparative View of the Various Institutions for the Assurance of Lives (1826); an actuarial paper,
  • Table of Logarithms of the Natural Numbers from 1 to 108, 000 (1827),
  • Reflections on the Decline of Science in England (1830),
  • On the Economy of Machinery and Manufactures (1832),
  • Ninth Bridgewater Treatise (1837),
  • and the autobiographical Passages from the Life of a Philosopher (1864).

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. 



Chronology

1792

Born in Teignmoth, Devonshire, UK

1810

Starts mathematical studies in Trinity College Cambridge

1814

Married Georgiana Withmore, they will have 3 sons and 1 daughter

1816

Member of the Royal Society

1819

Traveled to France with Herschel and met with important mathematicians. Gaspard de Prony will influence his later work on the D.E.

1820

Cofounder of the Astronomical Society,
Formulated the general idea of the Difference Engine

1822

Publishing of functions of the Difference Engine and first operational model of the D.E.

1823

Construction of a full scale DE

1824

First and only attempt in fundraising by creating life expectancy tables for an insurance company

1827

Babbage's father (Benjamin Babbage), his second son and his wife all died in this year.

1828

Extended Europe tour,
Appointed to a chair at the Cambridge university,
Establishment of the "Saturdaynight Society" a gathering of prominent scientists and politicians at Dorset street no. 1

1830

Second design of the Difference Engine

1832

Redesign of control mechanisms of the Difference Engine,
Publication of "On the Economy of Machinery and Manufacturers" the first book on management theories.

1833

Construction of DE ceased due to a financial based conflict between Babbage and the engineer Clement

1834-1837

The basic ideas for the Analytical Engine were formulated; later recognized as the foundations of the universal calculating machine

1836

Introduction of punched cards into the A.M.

1839

Babbage engaged into the dispute on the width of railroad tracks

1837-1840

Different designs of or changes to the A.M. were made

1840

Ada Lovelace starts to translate the public address of Luigi Menebrea on the A.E. and added notes

1846

Babbage wrote the ballet "Alethes and Iris" to get familiar with and study theater lighting.

1847

Construction work on the Analytical machine ends, but writing and explanations on the AE continued.

1848

The designs for Difference Engine No.2 were ready

1856/1857

Babbages suddenly continued the design of the Analytical Engine and started to produce experimental models of his AE

...1871

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

 

 

 

Go Backindex biographiesgo to home pagesearch this site Last Updated on March 8, 2013 For suggestions  please mail the editors 

 

Footnotes & References

There is smart outfit 650-179 , available in our superstore. Choose our 640-722 testking that proved a better compliment for you. Great 640-864 practice test along with special variety stock VCP-410 are accessible here. Our exam guide material like cisco passguide is also accessible for everyone.