• Mark PriestleyEmail author
Part of the History of Computing book series (HC)


In this book, the history of programming is seen as standing at the intersection of the two fields of machinery and language, and in particular as being closely related to attempts to give a mechanical account of language on the one hand, and a linguistic account of machines on the other. The story starts with the machines and the associated concept of the mechanical which were developed at the start of the 19th century, partly in response to the increasing economic importance of machines in the early industrial revolution. This chapter examines the background to these developments in the debate about machines and languages dating from the very start of the scientific revolution, and in particular in controversies about the algebraic approach to mathematics and the ’impossible quantities’ it seemed to give rise to.


Scientific Revolution Symbolic Language Machine Table Universal Machine Individual Language 
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© Springer-Verlag London Limited 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.LondonUK

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