Babbage’s Engines

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


Charles Babbage was a significant figure in English mathematics at the start of the 19th century, but he is now principally remembered for his work on the design and development of a series of what he described as mechanical calculating engines. He devoted a large amount of time and money to these projects, none of which was ever fully completed. Babbage’s machines, and in particular the Analytical Engine, are often portrayed as isolated precursors of the modern computer, and Babbage as an anachronistic genius who had the misfortune to live at a time when technology was insufficiently developed to enable him to fully implement his vision. When viewed in context, however, a rather different picture emerges. Babbage engaged whole-heartedly with the scientific, industrial and even political life of his time, and this chapter describes how his calculating engines can be seen in their historical context.


Difference Engine Arithmetical Operation Analytical Engine Outer Cycle English Mathematics 
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© Springer-Verlag London Limited 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.LondonUK

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