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Babbage invented the principle of the analytical engine, the forerunner of the modern electronic computer.Babbage graduated from Cambridge and at the early age of 24 was elected a fellow of the Royal Society. In 1827 he became Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge, a position he held for 12 years although Babbage never taught.
He originated the modern analytic computer. By 1834 he invented the principle of the analytical engine, the forerunner of the modern electronic computer.
In 1830 he published Reflections on the Decline of Science in England , a controversial work that resulted in the formation, one year later, of the British Association for the Advancement of Science. In 1834 Babbage published his most influential work On the Economy of Machinery and Manufactures , in which he proposed an early form of operational research.
The computation of logarithms had made him aware of the inaccuracy of human calculation, and he became so obsessed with mechanical computation that he spent 6000 in pursuit of it. A government grant of 17000 was given but support withdrawn in 1842. He felt some anger towards how the Royal Society was run:-
The Council of the Royal Society is a collection of men who elect each other to office and then dine together at the expense of this society to praise each other over wine and give each other medals.
Although Babbage never built an operational, mechanical computer, his design concepts have been proved correct and recently such a computer has been built following Babbage's own design criteria.
References (45 books/articles)
A page from a work by Babbage:
The cover of Babbage's Economy of Manufacturers and Machinery (1832) showing a medallion of Roger Bacon
References elsewhere in this archive:
Show me a picture of Babbage's difference engine.
Charles Babbage was elected to the Royal Society of London in 1816. You can see a history of the Royal Society and a list of the members among the mathematicians in our archive.
There is a Crater Babbage on the moon. You can see a list of lunar features named after mathematicians.
Other Web sites:
Virginia Tech, USA
Clarke University, USA
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