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Charles Babbage

Charles Babbage Charles Babbage is often called the father of computing because of his invention of the Analytical Engine. However, many people do not know the details of this very important mans life. Charles Babbage was born on December 26, 1792, just about that same time that the industrial revolution was beginning. He was born in Teignmouth, Devon shire. Although not much is really known about his childhood, it is known that he had many brothers and sisters, but many of them died before adulthood.

It is also known that Babbage never really played with his toys, instead, he would dissect them. When Babbage grew up he attended many new schools. He ended up at Forty Hill, where he was famous for mischief but for some reason or another Babbage still studied. He did bad things like carved his name in his desks, violated his curfew, and insult the minister’s sermons. He still found time to wake up with a friend at three in the morning and study in the library until five-thirty. Frederick Marryat, Babbages roommate and a future novelist, joined his morning study group.

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When Marryat began to attend regularly he started to bring more and more friends. And the once study group now became wild parties that were eventually broken up by the schools head master. After both Marryat and Babbage had become famous they loved to tell how they were deemed the two students most likely never to amount to anything. Babbage created his first invention, a type of shoes make of books that helped one walk on water, at his fathers summer home. This idea was good, but it didnt work, because he would weave too much from side to side and eventually fall over.

It is told that in 1810, at the age of nineteen, Babbage went up to Trinity College, Cambridge with some friends. Babbage studied grammar, literature, and many other important lessons, but he found his obsession to be mathematics. He read many books on the subject. Babbages teachers frustrated him greatly though, because none of them could ever answer his questions. He was very good at mathematics, especially calculus, and he soon figured out that not one of his teachers knew as much about it as he did. And he was very right about this.

Babbage and some other students formed the Analytical Society, where the Cambridge mathematics department disliked all the students, but they continued on anyway, because they wanted to make a difference. They noticed mistakes in earlier works and tried to correct them all. They all wanted to, as Babbage so eloquently put, Let us leave the world a wiser one then we found. But making these corrections was time consuming and Babbage got frustrated with it. He thought it would be really great if there was a machine that could produce the right answers the first time, then there would be no human error, and then they wouldnt have to correct anything.

This is what started him on building adding machines. Babbage took many years thinking things out, but finally he built his first calculating machine called the Difference Engine. It could print out the answers, but was limited to the highness of the numbers. It was good for astronomers because it could create accurate tables of star positions at certain dates. It was more accurate then human calculation though, and it didnt make any silly mistakes. Which was very useful, but it was only a prototype, Babbage never finished the real thing. He could never decide on one blueprint.

Babbage was always thinking of new ways to improve it. He ended up spending quite a great deal of money (Britains as well as his own family fortune) on this idea, but it did lead to his next engine, and computer programming. Once again, Babbage tried to invent an adding machine. This resulted in him creating the Analytical Engine. The Analytical Engine led to modern computers in three ways. First of all there was the Punch card, which Babbage realized that functions could be placed on similar cards so that all they had to do was create the right card, and anyone could put it into the machine and set it to go.

Babbage also devised two separate parts for the Analytical Engine, one that was similar to a factory and the other to a retailer. Sadly, the Analytical Engine was not even given much attention. All of Babbages work eventually led to better and easier machines that helped simplify mathematics. His work also made human errors in calculations less and less. And even though he never built a working computer, his designs and concepts really aided in the development of calculators and computers. And where would we be today without inventions like these that help make things easier in our lives. He truly opened many doors for what we now have and we should be grateful.

Charles Babbage died on October 18, 1871 in London a lonely, but brilliant man. Bibliography Works Cited Grolier Encyclopedia of Knowledge. Volume 2. Ano-Bas. Page 321. www.cbi.umn.edu/ (Look under Who was Charles Babbage?) www.ex.ac.uk/BABBAGE/welcome.html (Look under biography and family) www.museums.reading.ac.uk/vmoc/babbage/ (Look under biography) Computers and Internet Essays.

Charles Babbage

Charles Babbage was born at Walworth, Surrey England in December 26,1791. He achieved many great feats and belonged to many very distinguished groups before he died in October 18, 1871. Many people consider him to be the grandfather of computer science due to his great works with his Difference Engine (1821), which printed tables of polynomials, and his Analytical Engine (1856), which was intended as a general symbol manipulator. These inventions were far more complex than the work of any of his fellow inventors. Although there is no evidence that the computers of today are direct descendants of his work. He grew up with a passion for how mechanical objects worked. He also was an excellent mathematician. This was discovered at an early age when he employed a tutor only to find out he knew more about math than the tutor did. He was home schooled for a good many years before entering Cambridge University in 1810 an institution where he would later hold the position of Lucasian chair of mathematics from 1828 to 1839. His home schooling was in direct result of poor health in his youth. He was involved in many different fields of science. He was the first person to be presented the Gold Medal award given by the Astronomical Society. He was also a key figure in the founding of the Astronomical Society in 1820, the British Association for the Advancement of Science in 1831 and the Statistical Society of London in 1834. He is also the author of the very influential book On the Economy of Machinery and Manufactures. He also wrote a series of papers on many different topics such as optics and cryptology. Babbage excelled in many categories but being a politician wasnt one of them. As a result he would not be able to persuade the government in England to give him a grant on working on the analytical engine. In Babbages early years he was quite social an pleasant to have around. In fact he was notorious for excellent dinner parties where many famous and prominent people would be in attendance. Although over the years and believed by some as a result from the death of his daughter Shelley, who drowned near La Spezia in July of 1822 and 5 years later the death of his 35-year-old wife Georgiana in August 1827 he became a very bitter old man. It is also believed that the bitterness is in result of not receiving grants and the misinterpretation that not receiving funds for the continuation of his advancements in science were in a way a means to controlling or impeding the advancement of science.
Babbage had many dreams. One was a dream about a machine that would perform calculations. He called it the Differential Engine. This is a dream he would never see accomplished but would burn in him with such passion that it would keep him devoted to achieving it for the rest of his life. He had many detailed drawings and even achieved the feat of a small prototype. As a result of a man who was very scrutinizing and quite easily a perfectionist, he would always find a better way to achieve a process and therefore never finish what he started. He hired an engineer and machinist by the name of Joseph Clement to construct the engine and to oversee the fabrication of special tools. Unfortunately, little remains of Babbage’s prototype computing machines. One reason is that critical tolerances required by Babbage’s machines exceeded the level of technology available at the time. Also, though formal recognition of his work was tendered by respected institutions such as the Astronomical Society of London, the British government suspended funding for his Difference Engine in 1832, and after an agonizing waiting period, finally killed the project in 1842. This was only a small cause to the death of the Difference engine. In 1830 Babbage wanted to move the engine’s workshop to his house on Dorset Street. A fireproof work shop was constructed (again as a result of some paranoia and wanting perfection). Clement refused to move from his own workshop because of his ego and the familiar surroundings. It has been quoted that Clement made, in Babbages eyes “inordinately extravagant demands”. Babbage would then stop giving Clement money, so Clement dismissed his crew, and stopped work on the Difference Engine keeping all the blueprints and special tools constructed for the project. This would leave bad blood between Clement and Babbage through out the remainder of there lives. Although eventually Clement did return the blue prints. Thus, there remain only fragments of Babbage’s prototype Difference Engine. He later gave up this idea and started work on his Analytical Engine. This project he devoted most of his time and large fortune towards after 1856, although he never succeeded in completing any of his several designs for it. George Scheutz, a Swedish printer, successfully constructed a machine based on the designs for Babbage’s Difference Engine in 1854. This machine printed mathematical, astronomical and actuarial tables with unprecedented accuracy, and was used by the British and American governments. Although his works were continued by his son, Henry Prevost Babbage, after Babbages death in 1871, the Analytical Engine was never successfully completed, and ran only a few programs with a great deal of errors.
Charles Babbage was among the most talented and intelligent men in the history of mankind. He ranks up there with Newton, Galileo and Von Neumann. He has proven himself in many aspects of society ranging from economics to sciences. He has definitely left his mark on our way of life and has every right to be deemed a genius. It is because of his visions, maybe not directly related to our advancements in technology today but through his underlying methods and ingenuity that we have such an advanced society. It is with tremendous respect and admiration that I wrote this paper on the Grandfather of Computer Science.


Bibliography:
1.C. Babbage, Passages from the Life of a Philosopher, London: Longman, Green, Longman, Roberts ; Green, 1864.

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2.P. and E. Morrison, Charles Babbage and his Calculating Engines, Dover Publications, Inc., New York, New York, 1961.

3.R.W. Sebesta, Concepts of Programming Languages, Fourth Edition, Addison Wesley Longman, Inc., 1998.

4.M.R. Williams, A History of Computing Technology, Second Edition, IEEE Computer Society Press, Los Alamitos, California, 1998.

5.J.A.N. Lee, http://www.histech.rwthaachen.de/www/quellen/Histcomp/
Babbage.html, Charles Babbage, September 1994.

6.JOC/EFR, http://turnbull.dcs.st-and.ac.uk/history/Mathematicians/Babbage.html, Charles Babbage, December 1996.

7.Pictures: http://www.comlab.ox.ac.uk/oucl/users/jonathan.bowen/babbage.html

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