Key Points

  • In 1821 Charles Babbage grew tired of manually calculating and decided to consider mechanical calculations. 
  • The English mathematician and inventor is credited with having conceived the first automatic digital computer.
  • Although Charles Babbage thought of the first digital computer, the design was not completed in his lifetime. 

Charles Babbage is credited for designing and giving birth to the idea of the first automatic digital computer. During the mid-1830’s, Charles developed plans for a Analytical Engine. Although, it wasn’t competed during his lifetime, Babbage’s plans made way for the basic elements of the present-day, modern computer.

Some time in 1821, the young English mathematician Charles Babbage (biography), checking calculations for improving tables for a navigational book, and disappointed by numerous errors in these calculations, shared with a friend—”I wish to God these calculations had been executed by steam!”. It is quite possible, remarked his friend.

It was during the course of this activity that Charles Babbage began to seriously consider how such routine calculations could be performed mechanically. This preoccupation will prolong half a century, until his death. There is no doubt, that Babbage was an outstanding genius and he is the only man (if any!), who deserves the title Father of the Computer.

                                             Charles Babbage the Father of Computers

Charles Babbage was an extremely intelligent man and during the time of 1828 to 1839, he was Lucian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge. Not only was Babbage dedicated to his teachings (although known for being unconventional) he wrote three different topical books during this period of his life and was elected a Foreign Honorary member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1832.

His Differential Engine was a sophisticated specialized calculating machine, which was a huge step forward in the construction of calculating devices. But Differential Engine was nothing, compared with Analytical Engine. Babbage dared to design entirely mechanical digital programmable computer more than 100 years, before such a machine to be produced.

It is simply astonishing that the designs for the Analytical Engine embodied in their mechanical and logical details just about every major principle of the modern digital computer.

This section of the site will follow the steps of the great man, as well as of his followers.

Next Up…

About the Author

More from History-Computer