Picture of Charles Babbage Charles Babbage

English Mathematician


Mathematican and inventor, born in London. He studied at Cambridge, where he became professor of mathematics (1828-39), and spent most of his life attempting to build two calculating machines. His "difference engine" was intended for the calculation of tables of logarithms and similar functions by repeated addition performed by trains of gear wheels. An unfinished portion of the machine is now in the Science Museum, London. His "analytical engine" was designed to perform many different computations, using punched cards. The idea was too ambitious to be realized by the mechanical devices available at the time, but can now be seen to be the essential germ of the electronic computer of today, and Babbage is thus regarded as the pioneer of modern computers.

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