Babbage's Analytical Engine

Speaker: Doron Swade
Date: Thu 16th May 2013
Time: 14:30

Fellows Library of the Science Museum, Exhibition Road, London SW7 2DD

About the seminar

Difference Engines receive a lion's share of attention in the many accounts of Charles Babbage's efforts in the 19th century to design and construct computing machines. Yet Difference Engines are strictly special-purpose calculators not computers as we would now understand the term, and it is his design for the Analytical Engine, the first automatic general purpose programmable digital computer, on which Babbage's reputation as the first computer pioneer largely rests. This presentation explores Babbage's ambitions for the Analytical Engine, assesses what is known of its workings, reviews lost knowledge, and outlines what might be involved in the recent undertaking to build an Analytical Engine to original 19th-century designs.

About the speaker

Dr. Doron Swade is an historian of computing. He was formerly a hardware designer, curator of computing, and Assistant Director & Head of Collections at the Science Museum. He conceived and founded the Computer Conservation Society 1989. He is a leading authority on Charles Babbage and masterminded the construction of Difference Engine No. 2, the first Babbage engine built to original designs. He has written three books (one co-authored) and many articles. In 2009 he was awarded an MBE for services to history of computing.

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