Charles Babbage: Facts and Information

Here are some facts about Charles Babbage.

  • Charles Babbage was an English inventor, engineer and mathematician. He is best known for devising the first mechanical computer which led to modern advances in computers.
  • Babbage was born in London in 1791, attended Cambridge University and became the college’s top mathematician.
  • He and his friends at Cambridge founded the Ghost Club to investigate supernatural happenings.

Charles Babbage

  • He helped to found the Astronomical Society in 1820. He was also in charge of a survey of Ireland and helped to create Britain’s modern postal system.
  • In 1822, Charles Babbage devised a machine able to perform mathematical calculations. He built a 12 metre long workshop in his garden, but was accused of wasting government money on the project.
  • During the 1830s, Babbage worked on an analytical engine which would perform all sorts of calculations. Babbage and his team produced over 7,000 pages of designs and notes for the machine.
  • The machine would be housed in a 5 metre tall building, a mechanical version of a modern computer’s CPU. Babbage never got funding for the machine, but continued to work on improved versions.
  • In 1832, Babbage stood for Parliament and was almost elected as an MP.
  • He invented the cow catching device on the front of locomotives, and published several papers on God and religion.
  • Babbage died in October, 1871, having declined a knighthood.
  • Half of his brain is on display in London’s Science Museum, and the other half can be seen in the Royal College of Surgeons.
  • A plaque at 1, Dorset Street in London commemorates the 40 years Charles Babbage lived there.
  • He has had a locomotive and a moon crater named after him, as well as several university buildings.
  • A difference engine was built in 1991, based on Babbage’s design. It worked perfectly. In 2011, a plan was announced to build his analytical engine, which should be finished around 2021.

What next? Discover some facts about other famous inventors and famous mathematicians.

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