Wednesday, October 31, 2012

19th Century British Computer?

Could the Computer Age Have Begun in Victorian England?

Date: 31 October 2012 Time: 10:09 AM ET
Victorian Steam Powered Computer
Famed mathematician Charles Babbage designed a Victorian-era computer called the Analytical Engine. This is a portion of the mill with a printing mechanism.
CREDIT: Science Museum | Science & Society Picture Library

A Victorian-era device might have jumpstarted the Computer Age more than 100 years before the first personal computers of Bill Gates or Steve Jobs. That century-old dream has inspired a British programmer to launch a crowd-funding effort that can finally make the steam-powered "Analytical Engine" a reality.

The early computer concept — a brass-and-iron machine the size of a small steam locomotive — came from the mind of Charles Babbage, a famed mathematician who tinkered with different designs for the Analytical Engine until his death in 1871.

The Plan 28 project aims to build Babbage's machine by raising $8 million (5 million in British pounds) over the next 10 years.
"The Analytical Engine would have been the world's first computer," said John Graham-Cumming, a programmer and director of Plan 28.

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