id: 05879717
dt: j
an: 2011b.00028
au: Deakin, Michael
ti: Charles Babbage and the computer.
so: Parabola 46, No. 3, 22-29 (2010).
py: 2010
pu: AMT Publishing, Australian Mathematics Trust, University of Canberra,
Canberra; School of Mathematics \& Statistics, University of New South
Wales, Sydney
la: EN
cc: A30 P80
ut: mathematicians; history of computing; mathematics in the 19th century;
biographies; Howard Aiken
ci:
li:
ab: From the introduction: Some years ago, I wrote a column on the work of a
woman usually called Ada Lovelace. Ada was the only legitimate daughter
of the poet Byron, and she has acquired a considerable reputation as a
mathematician ‒ a reputation which I argued she does not deserve. She
was certainly greatly interested in Mathematics and studied it under
three excellent mathematicians the time: Mary Somerville, Augustus De
Morgan and Charles Babbage. Here I want to tell a related story,
although this will involve my repeating, to some extent, the earlier
one. Her connection with Babbage what brings us to the primary concern
here. Charles Babbage (1791-1871) was a well-recognized mathematician,
a fellow of the Royal Society of London and a Professor of Mathematics
at Cambridge (occupying the Lucasian chair once held by Newton). Today
he is best remembered for his interest in mechanical computation and he
is often seen as a pioneer of automatic computing. He envisaged first a
machine that he called the $Difference$ $Engine$, and later a much more
ambitious one, the $Analytical$ $Engine$. He worked on the Difference
Engine for about ten years in the 1820s, and made some progress towards
its actual construction, although he never completed this project.
However, in 1833, he abandoned it in favor of a new idea: the
Analytical Engine, which he saw as much more versatile. It is this
latter machine that incorporated many of the concepts that later came
to be seen as important in computer design.
rv: