Investigation Into The Father Of Computing Charles Babbage

1145 words - 5 pages

Born on the 26 December 1791 Charles Babbage was to become not only a mathematician and philosopher, but also a mechanical engineer later to be recognised for introducing the idea of a programmable computer. From an early age Babbage had often been ill, however due to the wealth of his father he was taught at some of the most recognised schools. It was at Holmwood Academy when Babbage realised his love of mathematics and following his elementary education, Charles went on to Trinity College, Cambridge, to read mathematics. It was after his graduation when Babbage was hired by the Royal Institution to lecture on calculus, and two years later he was elected a member of the Royal Society and along with his peers from Cambridge set up the Astronomical Society.It was whilst studying at Cambridge that Babbage began thinking about building a machine, which could calculate mechanically without human error. “Babbage’s engines were among the first mechanical computers” , although it must be acknowledged that they were not actually completed, largely due to funding, as at the time many of the materials and machine tools that were needed to shape certain parts of the engine were not available, therefore the only way forward was for Babbage and his workers to construct and design them. However the consequence of the delays meant that the Government became worried and the financial support from them became limited, thus making Babbage’s life harder. Throughout Babbage’s life “numerical tables were calculated by humans called ‘computers’” , therefore as already mentioned human error was quite high, thus he used this as his main fuel in developing and calculating numerical tables. This he began in 1822 with what he called his ‘Difference Engine’, “made to compute values of polynomial functions” , and “unlike similar efforts of the time, Babbage’s ‘Difference Engine’ was created to calculate a series of values automatically’” . However, very little remains of his “prototype computing machines” . Although at the time many scientific institutions respected and recognised his works, his worst enemy appeared to be the British Government, due to the fact that they suspended funding for his ‘Difference Engine’, and after a prolonged waiting period, his project ended in 1842.However after the collapse of his first work, Babbage began designing a more complex piece of machinery called the ‘Analytical Engine’, and it is with this design that his fame and recognition as a computer pioneer rests with. Its function was mainly to “perform any arithmetical calculation using punched cards that would deliver the instructions, as well as a memory unit to store numbers and many other fundamental components of today’s computers”. Babbage also intended for the ‘Analytical Engine’ to take on features that consequently are used in...

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