Charles Babbage


Charles Babbage was born in the family home in London on December 6, 1792.  He was the son of Benjamin Babbage, a London banker, and Betsy Plumleigh Babbage. Babbage taught himself algebra and was widely read in continental mathematics in his youth. He was, in fact, far more mathematically sophisticated than the tutors when he entered Cambridge's Trinity College in 1810.  He founded the Analytical Society in 1812 with John Herschel and George Peacock.  The Analytical Society's mission was to reform Newtonian mathematics and encourage the study of continental mathematics.  Babbage and Herschel were the only contributors to the first of the society's publications, Memoirs of the Analytical Society which was released in 1813.  

In 1814 Babbage married Georgiana Whitmore the daughter of a landowning family from Shropshire.  That year he also graduated with a BA from Peterhouse (another school in Cambridge).  By 1820 he had been elected to the Royal Society of London (1816), the Royal Society of Edinburgh, and was important in the founding of the Royal Astronomical Society.  1827 found Babbage in the position he would hold for 12 years; Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge.  Sadly, that year his father, his wife and two of his children died.  

Most of the rest of his years between 1827 and his death in 1871 were spent on his difference engines and analytical engine.  None of the many designs were ever completed.   In 1834 the British government stopped funding on the project.  It wasn't until 1842 that they official abandoned it.   Between 1813 and 1868, Babbage published six books works and over eighty papers.  Babbage was also a socialite in London and an economist of some renowned.


Mill for the Analytic Engine Built by Babbage's Son

A section difference engine number one assembled by Joseph Clement in 1832,

Difference Engine number two built by the science museum from the original plans


A portion of the second difference engine constructed by the science museum

The mill for the analytical engine that was under construction when Babbage died







The Charles Babbage Institute at the University of Minnesota Virgina Tech Page
MacTutor Biography Exeter's Babbage Pages
Babbage Links Pages John Walker's Babbage Page
THOCP Page Pagewise Article
Science Museum Exhibit on Babbage Linux Gazette Article