The Biography of Charles Babbage


Charles Babbage, famous inventor, philosopher, and engineer, was born in December of 1791 in England. His father was a banking partner and merchant, and the family lived in East Teignmouth in a small home. Because Charles' father was wealthy Charles was able to receive the best education possible. After a failed attempt with a private tutor Charles began his educational journey by attending Holmwood Academy. Later, Charles attended Trinity College in Cambridge, but was disappointed with the mathematical program they offered. Charles had a great love for math early in life, and often studied math independently. In 1812 he transferred to Peterhouse and was the top mathematician there.

Babbage married his wife Georgiana in 1814. Her half-brother was involved in the economy and politics and was a large influence in Babbage's life and theories. Georgiana and Charles had eight children total, but sadly only three of them survived up to adulthood. In 1827, Charles Babbage lost his wife, father, and one of his sons. This tragic year caused him to have an emotional breakdown, and slowed his inventive progress down significantly.

Before 1827, he had begun making plans for several inventions, including the central heating system. Charles Babbage's youngest son assisted him with his inventions, and created six different engines with the help of his father's designs. Charles spent much of his life working on concepts and then seeing them through to reality.

Charles did have some eccentricities. He once counted broken panes of glass in a factory and then publishing his findings. He had a severe distaste for street performers, particularly organ grinders. He felt like the noise emanating from the musicians kept intelligent people from working. Charles Babbage lived until the age of 79 and died in 1871. He was buried in London.

The many inventions Charles Babbage helped create have had a lasting impact on society. He created the cow-catcher, the metal frame around the front of trains designed to help clear obstructions from railroad tracks. Charles Babbage is probably best known for designing a mechanical computer. Babbage's son built the machine after his father's death from parts and pieces found in his laboratory. Babbage wanted to revolutionize the concept of machinery being capable of counting and performing mathematical functions. These large, bulky machines were a bit cumbersome, but scientists today claim this was the premise of the modern day computer, as the machine still performed the same basic functions. Babbage created several different versions of these computers, known as difference engines. All of them paved the way for products such as calculators, microchips, and personal computers.

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