Charles Babbage: The Father of Computing

A great Briton?
Written by CNET Networks, Contributor on

A great Briton?

Charles Babbage, Alan Turing and Tim Berners Lee have all been shortlisted by a nationwide survey, conducted by the BBC, to find the greatest ever Briton. Over 30,000 people took part in the poll, and the overall winner will be chosen by the public in a further vote later this year.

Charles Babbage: The Father of Computing
Charles Babbage, who was born in 1791, is regarded as the father of computing because of his research into machines that could calculate. Babbage's Difference Engine Number 1 was the first device ever devised that could calculate and print mathematical tables.

Babbage also spent years working on a more sophisticated device, the Analytical Engine. As well as being able to calculate sums, the Analytical Engine could also read data from punchcards - giving it a memory and the ability to make decisions based on previous calculations.

But politicians of the day did not provide the financial backing that Babbage sought, and the Analytical Engine was never completed. Its importance to modern computing, though, is illustrated by the fact that the computing language ADA was named after Augusta Ada Lovelace, the daughter of the English poet Lord Byron, who worked with Babbage on the Analytical Engine.

Graeme Wearden writes for ZDNet.co.uk

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