the computer that took 150 years to exist

In the laboratories of Intellectual enterprises there is a big museum piece: the analysis engine. Laboratory IV Where Laboratory of intellectual adventures is a space of over 8,000 square meters located in Bellevue, Washington, USA. There are hundreds of inventors, engineers and scientists work to find new technologies and inflate their patent portfolio. Intellectual enterprises, the parent company, holds more than 35,000 patents in the United States. And until. But what interests us about this American giant is its collector’s item. An analysis engine with more than 8,000 pieces and which has more than a century of life.

Their 5 tons of weight and its size, more than three meters long, makes it difficult to move while it is impossible not to see it. This machinery of the past contrasts with the modernity of the laboratories of Intellectual enterprises, installations where concrete and current technology contrast with its metal parts. Its technical name is Motor difference number 2 (in English, Engine Difference #2). But it is better known as the Difference Engine, Analytical Engine, or Babbage Engine. By its creator, the English mathematician Charles Babbage. In practice it is a mechanical calculator. One of the first. Or we can also say that it is one of first computers modern. A carcass full of mechanical parts like the Russian computer that ran on water. Closer to an industrial machine than a current computer.

Laboratory facilities Intellectual enterprises in the United States, they are the last stop of this analytical engine. The latest information available dates from 2016. Previously, since 2008, this collector’s item was exhibited at the Computer History Museum (Computer History Museum) in Mountain View, CA. Interestingly, this analytical engine is the second of its kind. Her older sister is on display in the science museum london. Without the second, the first would not have existed. Whims of donations from millionaires. And its history is full of problems. So much so that Charles Babbage’s first difference engine it took 167 years to complete. If we take into account that its design was published in the distant 1835, and the construction ended only in 2002 after several pauses between phase and phase of the project.

Source: London Science Museum

Charles Babbage, mathematician, philosopher and computer pioneer

The person directly responsible for engine difference number 2 is its ideologue and creator, the English mathematician and engineer Charles Babbage. To his credit, he stands out for having been the inventor of machines programmable calculators. The direct ancestors of today’s computers, bridging the gap. His main achievement, a mechanical calculator capable of calculating tables of numerical functions. Faster and more accurate than a human mind. And in 1822, he made it a reality.

But not all of Babbage’s projects were as successful as the Analytical Engine. Despite everything in his favor. Born in late 1791, he was the fourth child of a wealthy family and received a good education. So much so that in 1810 he entered the Trinity College of Cambridge. His specialty, mathematics. He also studied in another University Prestige, peterhouse. Professionally, he taught astronomy at the royal institution (1815) and the following year he was made a member of the Royal Society. And although he didn’t get a teaching job in Haileybury College nor at the University of Edinburgh, he continued his research by himself thanks to the money of his father, provided during his lifetime and inherited after his death.