Why Charles Babbage Is Called The Father Of Computers

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"The design of Babbage's calculating machines strongly resemble the modern computer system. The overall organization is remarkably similar to the conceptual design of modern computers."

Features of Babbage’s Analytical engine

  • The analytical engine was designed to compute any mathematical function in any form. It could add, subtract, multiply, or divide according to instructions that were coded on cards.
  • The design incorporated many of the characteristics of the modern electronic computer. As Babbage envisioned it, the analytical engine would have a store for the numbers used in the calculations and a mill which would be a central mechanism where arithmetic operations were to be performed.
  • Programs for the mill would be written on punched cards.  The codes on the cards would instruct the mill in the operations to be performed. These would determine what processes were used in manipulating the data.  The data would be transferred back and forth between the store and the mill by a system of gears and levers.  The engine would ring a bell if a value went below zero or above the capacity of the machine, since either of these events would result in incorrect calculations.
  • The machine would use a typesetter to print the results of the operations.  All of these operations were to be performed mechanically.

The overall organization of Babbage's analytical engine was really a general-purpose computer remarkably similar to the conceptual design of modern computers.  But some of the early pioneers of the electronic computer were not aware of his ideas and the skeptics dubbed the machine as foolish idea.

Factors why Babbage was not able to complete his machine:

  • Babbage worked on his analytical engine until his death.  At that time the state of manufacturing technology was inadequate for producing the components Babbage needed with the precision that was required.
  • Lack of a real need for a computing machine that had such powerful capabilities.
  • The British stopped supporting Babbage's work leaving him without funds to continue his research.

Although Babbage failed to construct either of the machines for which we remember him, the detailed plans that he left enabled others to construct them later.  In 1855, a Swedish printer named George Scheutz built a difference engine from Babbage's plans.  It worked as Babbage had envisioned.  His son, Henry, built a working model of the mill portion of the analytical engine in 1871. Both of Babbage's machines influenced future researchers.

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