Charles Babbage: Father of the Computer
Charles Babbage can be considered “the father of the computer” as he invented the first mechanical computer (the Difference Engine 1822) and ”the first general-purpose computer” (the Analytical Engine 1837).
Although his machines were theoretical, we can confirm that they work today. Add all the above to the fact that Babbage was one of the Father of Computer Science Alan Turing‘s main influences and mother of computer programming Ada Lovelace‘s mentor, and we can easily credit him as “the father of the computer.”
Charles Babbage, Konrad Zuse and the Computer (Milestones of Science).
FACT: Charles Babbage wrote the first computer code, but some of the first complex code meant to be carried out by a machine was written by his friend and partner Ada Lovelace, Daughter of Lord Byron.
Babbage’s Difference Engine and Analytical Engine
Specifically, Babbage created three devices: His Difference Engine 1 & 2 and the Analytical Engine.
Each was a type of “high powered mechanical calculator” that worked off of past mathematical visionaries like J. H. Müller (1786) and Blaise Pascal (1642). It was Lovelace, and not Babbage, who first saw the potential of the machines to go beyond number crunching.
The Difference engine is an “automatic calculator” and “the world’s first computer,” while the Analytical Engine is “the world’s first general-purpose computer.”
Both computers were mechanical in design. It was not until the 1940s that the first “digital” general-purpose computers were built with the help of people like Alan Turing, the spiritual successor of Babbage and Lovelace and Pascal, Müller, etc.
Although none of the machines were built in Babbage’s time, The Difference Engine was built in 1985 and a project to build the Analytic engine is in the works. Today, even though the Analytics Engine has yet to be completed, we can confirm that Babbage’s computers work, just as Lady Lovelace’s code executes flawlessly.
A demo of Charles Babbage’s Difference Engine. It’s alive!
Charles Babbage’s Analytical Engine. Babbage had a vision of a machine that didn’t make mistakes like human calculators did (something that is vital for a mathematician).
FACT: The Analytical Engine is a theoretical computer, the ENIAC is the first working electronic general-purpose computer. Meanwhile, the first analog computer dates from around 200 BC; it is called the Antikythera Mechanism. Pascal made one of the earliest precursors to the computer, a mechanical calculator, in 1642.