Charles Babbage: Pioneer of the Computer

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Princeton University Press, Jan 1, 1985 - Biography & Autobiography - 287 pages
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This book discusses the career of Charles Babbage (1791-1871), British advocate of the systematic use of science in industry and creator of machines that were precursors of the modern computer. Babbage used his immense personal charm and vitality in an attempt to change the thinking of contemporary industrialists who had little use for the higher reaches of science. Shifting his own energies from pure mathematics, he planned engines that would "calculate by steam": the Difference Engines, designed to compute tables according to the method of finite differences, and the more complex Analytical Engines, forerunners of the modern computer.

Almost forgotten and then rediscovered in the middle of the twentieth century, the Analytical Engines are among the great intellectual achievements of humankind. This biography of their polymathic inventor gives a convincing account of his tragic personal life and his important place in the history of science.

  

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Contents

Childhood
5
Cambridge
20
Marriage Early Years of a Philosopher in London
31
Science in Action Start on the First Engine
47
The Death of Georgiana Continental Travel
62
Reform
75
Science and Reform The Royal Society
88
On the Economy of Machinery and Manufactures
103
The Analytical Engines Social Life
164
Analytical Engines and the Circumlocution Office
190
The Great Exhibition
211
The Death of Ada A Family Reunion
225
Final Passages in the Life of a Philosopher
241
From the Analytical Engines to the Modern Computer
254
Published Works of Charles Babbage
256
From Passages from the Life of a Philosopher
261

The Great Engine
123
The Ninth Bridgewater Treatise
136
Rail Steam and the British Association
143
On the Mathematical Powers of the Calculating Engine
268
Index
277
Copyright

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