Today, 26th December, 2015, is the 224th Birthday of Charles Babbage. Mathematician, philosopher, engineer, Babbage donned many hats in his 80 year lifetime but he is perhaps most famous for inventing the first ever mechanical computer known as Difference Engine in 1822. Aptly, he is called the ‘Father of the Computer’.
Charles Babbage was born in London on 26th December in 1791. As a college student, he took admission in the Trinity College, Cambridge but he earned his degree from Peterhouse, Cambridge. He was elected as Fellow of the Royal Society in 1816 when he was just 25 years of age. He founded the Astronomical Society in 1820. In 1822, under the Society’s request to improve upon the calculations of ‘The Nautilus Almanac‘ Babbage felt the need to to introduce a way for mechanical calculations. Thus the first idea of the Difference Engine was conceived.
Babbage requested Joseph Clement to design the machine he had envisioned the project remained incomplete due to cost issues. In 1849 he created the design for Difference Engine 2 but it failed to secure funding. Babbage later created an improved design of the Difference Engine known as the ‘Analytical Engine‘. London Science Museum has constructed two models from Babbage’s original designs.
Charles Babbage breathed his last on 18th December, 1871 at the age of 79. His brain was preserved and one half of it is on display at the Hunterian Museum. The other half can be seen at the London Science Museum. He was buried at Kensal Green Cemetery.