Charles Babbage (1791-1871)

Charles Babbage was a prominent British mathematician. At one point, he held the Chair at Cambridge once held by Isaac Newton (and now held by Stephen Hawking).

Unfortunately, he feuded a great deal, and never made much progress in actually building the machines which he designed. This was a pity, because his ideas were more than a century ahead of his time. In 1833 he planned a 50-digit machine which would read and write punched cards, and would read its program from cards. Ada Byron, later Countess of Lovelace, actually wrote a program for the planned machine. (This is why the programming language Ada was named after her.)

Last modified: 12 August 1995

Back to Computers: Not Just a PC on a Desk