Charles Babbage is popularly known
as the "Father of Computing" for his pioneering work
with computing machines. The use of Jacquard punch cards, chains
and subassemblies, and the logical structure of the modern computer
all developed from the work of Babbage.
was born in London on December 26, 1791, the son of Benjamin Babbage,
a London banker and grandson to Benjamin Babbage, who was the
Mayor of Totnes, Devon in 1754. Although Babbage was born in London,
he's regarded as a Devonian.
Born the son of a Banker, Babbage followed the
typical path of a Victorian era "thinking gentleman",
entering Trinity College, Cambridge in 1810, and receiving his
MA in 1817. Babbage occupied the Lucasian chair of mathematics
at Cambridge from 1828 to 1839 and was the founder of several
Victorian era societies and associations, the most famous of which
included the Analytical Society in 1820, and the Statistical Society
of London in 1834. Babbage was considered to be one of England's
pre-eminent intellectuals in an era replete with brilliant minds.
Babbage was known as a lover of the created object, finding great
beauty in things manufactured by man, stamped buttons, stomach
pumps, railways and tunnels, all man's mastery over nature. This
love for intricate creation can be seen in his designs. His Difference
Engine, a device for calculating and printing mathematical tables
by machine consisted of two tons of brass, hand-fitted steel and
pewter clockwork. Babbage seemed to go against what was described
as the era's "growing divorce between academic science and
Babbage loved practical science, and was among the first to apply
higher mathematics to commercial and industrial problems. Babbage,
along with his draftsmen, conducted pioneering work in the field
of precision engineering. Since the conventional mechanical drawing
used at the time proved inadequate for his engines, he developed
his own abstract notation. He called this work with mechanical
notation "one of the most important additions I have made
to human knowledge".
With the die-cast pewter gear wheels of his Difference Engine,
and with his design of lathes and tool-shapers, Babbage had a
huge influence on the British machine tool industry. The foreman
in Babbage's shop, Sir Joseph Whitworth was responsible for the
introduction of the first series of standard screw threads.
In addition to his great love for the mechanical,
Babbage was enthralled with the field of statistics, and made
great study of statistics of all sorts, everything from his "Table
of Constants of the Class Mammalia" measuring such constants
as the heartbeat of a pig, to an attempt to mathematically handicap
horse races (at which he was notable unsuccessful).
Despite his great contributions to many fields of study in Victorian
England, Babbage was not a universally popular figure in his lifetime,
being held in great disrespect by the general public in London.
This was due in large part to the popular belief that he had been
supported in his research by large grants from the government
during a time when the ever growing industrial revolution was
creating a large underclass of poor and disposed. Babbage was
widely known to have hated "street musicians", and one
way in which the public vented their displeasure with his was
by ensuring that he never lacked for the attention of an unending
parade of fiddlers, Punch-and-Judy shows, and the like. Some neighbours
hired musicians to play outside his windows, while others annoyed
him with worn-out or out of tune wind instruments.
Despite his lack of public popularity, Babbage was a great mind,
and although never fully developed, his work with digital computing
devices was revolutionary. As a prominent Victorian, his place
in history is assured. Babbage died in 1871, and is buried in
Kensal Green Cemetery in London.
1985, the Science Museum in London began construction of the Difference
Engine No. 2 using Babbage's original designs of his work during
1846 to 1848. It took six years to build the calculating device,
just in time for the bicentennial of Babbage's birth. The device
consists of 4000 parts and weighs over three metric tons. Its
first calculation at the London Science Museum returned results
to 31 digits, far more than the average modern pocket calculator.
The Conway Stewart Babbage edition is a spectacular celebration
of the life and work of Charles Babbage. With a simple and straightforward
cylindrical cap and barrel, the Babbage pays homage to the underlying
structure of Babbage's work. Both the cap and barrel are covered
in an intricate pattern of engine turned engraving in a concentric
circular pattern. The result is at once simple and intricate,
a perfect reflection on the work of Charles Babbage.
The Conway Stewart Babbage edition is being made
as a roller ball, an eminently practical choice for today's lover
of fine writing instruments. Roller ball pens offer the luxurious
feel of the fountain pen's liquid ink combined with the rugged
practicality of the ball-point pen. The Babbage is also designed
as a clipless pen, intended to be carried in a briefcase, organiser
or handbag, and sized to fit the pen loops built into these. In
keeping with the life of Charles Babbage, practicality and attention
to detail form the pre-eminent aspects of this design.
|Retail List Price £550 $970 €685
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