Charles Babbage

Charles Babbage (* 26. December 1791 in Teignmouth, Devonian-almost, England; † 18. October 1871 in London) was an English mathematician, philosopher, an inventor and a political economist.

Charles Babbage
Charles Babbage

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two mechanical calculating machines

, from

which it could finish no functional copy during lifetimes, developed 2 lives 3 writings 4 literature 5 Web on the left of [work on] scientific work their latter however withas a forerunner of the modern computer is considered. Its interests and activities go however the far beyond pioneer achievement in this area.

Its under the title Economy OF machinery and of manufactures published analysis of factory capitalism became an important source for Karl Marx, this book comprehensively rezipierte. After Babbage the Babbage principle is designated, which is concerned with labour costs.

It set the life insurance business to a mathematical basis, concerned themselves with cryptology, to the navigation of underwater crafts and placed a theory to the glacier formationup. Zu seinen zahlreichen Erfindungen neben den Rechenmaschinen gehört auch derAugenspiegel (Ophthalmoskop), den er unabhängig von Helmholtz entwickelte, und ein an der Stirnseite von Lokomotiven befestigten Schienenräumer, der so genannte „Kuhfänger“. Likewise it recognized that those width of the Jahresringesa tree by the weather one affects and to be thus determined can, how the climate was forwards long times.

The cause for the development from computers was for the mathematician Babbage the reliability lacking of numeric tables of mathematical functions, those at that time z. B. for ship navigation were provided and with their computation frequently errors arose. It turned on this problem with the methods of the industrialization: Divisionthe work into single steps (algorithmizing) and their transmission on machines (automation). He knew mathematical boards in the new decimal system by the procedures of the Frenchman Gaspard de Prony, who had been assigned after the French revolution , toocompute that also such mental-intellectual tasks can be effectively organized like manual activities by division of labor. Babbages a goal was it to carry out also the second step and design machines, which implement the work procedures automatically.

The development of Babbages calculating machinesAda Lovelace with the achievement of its close woman employee, which described the programming of the machine at least theoretically, is inseparably connected and so that also the first software ahead-suspected.


Babbage begins in the year 1810 a beginning of study to Trinity college in Cambridge; Emphasis is mathematics and chemistry. 1814 it makes its conclusion at the Peterhouse - for college in Cambridge. In the same year he marries George IANA Whitmore.

It 1816 member of the Royal Society and reaches 1817 the Magisterphilosophy. it creates 1820 together with John Herschel and George Peacock the Analytical Society, a whose goal is the reformation of British mathematics and the spreading of progressive methods of the European mainland (as for instance the Leibniz' differential calculation). WithSupport of the British government begins 1823 the work on the difference engine no.1.

1826 publish Babbage a writing, in which he sets the business with life insurances by dying tables to a statistic basis.

After the death of the father,a son and the wife start he 1827 a one year's European journey.

It becomes 1828 professor for mathematics in Cambridge (Lukasi chair, until 1839), holds however no lectures. 1831 create Babbge British the Association for the AdvancementOF Science from discontent with the condition of the Royal Society.

Its book on the Economy OF Machinery and Manufactures appears 1832. This is an analysis of the technology and organization of the industrial capitalism of its time, in which he among other things overthe lowering of labour costs by the fragmentation of a working process into differently requirementful subprocesses writes, what admits today also asBabbage principle “is. In the same year a first module becomes the difference engine from approximately 2000 of altogether projected 25000Parts by the precision mechanic Joseph Clement finished.

In the year 1833 it begins the work on analytical the engine at own expense. 1834 it creates the society for statistics in London.

1842 place the British government the project difference engines no.1 finally, 1846 adjust Babbage the development analytical of the engines . Starting from 1847 work it on detailed plans for a difference engine no.2 (until approximately 1849), which gets along with importantly fewer construction units than no.1.

1854 succeed to Babbage as firstthe decoding of a Vigenère cipher


  • A Comparative View OF the Various institution for the Assurance OF live one, 1826
  • Reflections on the DEK LINE OF Science in England, London 1830, on-line with Project good mountain (English)
  • Economy OFmachinery and of manufactures, London 1832, on-line expenditure German with Project good mountain (
    • English): The economics of the machine. Culture publishing house Kadmos, Berlin 1999 ISBN 3931659119
  • Passages from live OF A Philosopher (autobiography), 1864
    • German expenditure: Passages from a philosopher life. Culture publishing houseKadmos, Berlin 1997 ISBN 3931659070


  • Anthony Hyman: Charles Babbage, 1791-1871. Philosopher, mathematician, computer pioneer. Klett Cotta, Stuttgart 1987 ISBN 3608930957
  • Joachim Wagner: The Babbage principle. In: Economiceconomics study (pointed), 11. Jg., number 12 (December 1982), S. 588-590.

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| | * Literature of and over Charles Babbage in the catalog of the DDB



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