The Babbage ‘Difference Engine’ Works

Charles Babbage, long regarded as the father of modern computing, was not able to put his ideas into action during his lifetime. Faced with continual funding difficulty in building his ‘difference engine’ and, later, ‘analytical engine,’ his groundbreaking ideas were left unimplemented when he died in 1871.

Strangely enough, although Babbage has been well regarded for his ideas and is often listed among the ‘founding fathers’ of computing, nobody ever actually built his machines and nobody really knew for sure if they would work.

Well that’s changed. Almost 140 years after his death, we now know that Babbage’s ‘difference engine’ works. Using the original plans (correcting for a few minor errors) and using material and techniques that would have been available during Babbage’s lifetime, two ‘difference engines’ have been built and work exactly as intended.

Check out the video at the link. This thing is great.

Scott Bradford has been putting his opinions on his website since 1995—before most people knew what a website was. He has been a professional web developer in the public- and private-sector for over twenty years. He is an independent constitutional conservative who believes in human rights and limited government, and a Catholic Christian whose beliefs are summarized in the Nicene Creed. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Public Administration from George Mason University. He loves Pink Floyd and can play the bass guitar . . . sort-of. He’s a husband, pet lover, amateur radio operator, and classic AMC/Jeep enthusiast.