The Difference Engine: Charles Babbage and the Quest to Build the First Computer

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Penguin Books, Oct 29, 2002 - Biography & Autobiography - 342 pages
38 Reviews
In 1821 an inventor and mathematician named Charles Babbage was reviewing a set of mathematical tables. After finding an excess of errors in the results, he exclaimed, "I wish to God these calculations had been executed by steam." Thus began Babbage's lifelong enterprise to design and build a mechanical calculating engine-the world's first computer. Drawing on Babbage's original notes and designs, Doron Swade recounts both Babbage's nineteenth-century quest to build a calculating machine-the Difference Engine-and Swade's own successful attempt to build a replica for the bicentennial of Babbage's birth. Set against the tantalizing background of Victorian science and politics with a colorful cast of characters, The Difference Engine is a saga of ingenuity and will-and the dawning of a new age.

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Review: The Difference Engine : Charles Babbage And The Quest To Build The First Computer

User Review  - Goodreads

Swade makes a clear and memorable narrative of Babbage's halting and imperfect progress, without papering over the difficulties. Well-written, by the curator of a Babbage exhibit, someone who knows the machine inside and out - and gives the people a good treatment, too. Read full review

Review: The Difference Engine : Charles Babbage And The Quest To Build The First Computer

User Review  - Catherine Siemann - Goodreads

A history of Babbage's proto-computers from the perspective of someone with a real technical interest -- part of the team that actually built a working Difference Engine in the 1990s. Lots of interesting details. Dismissive of Ada Lovelace, alas. Read full review


The Tables Crisis
A Personal Question
Tragedy and Decline

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