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 is a writer and technologist who has been putting his opinions online since 1995. He believes in three inviolable human rights: life, liberty, and property. He is a Catholic Christian who worships the trinitarian God described in the Nicene Creed. Scott is a husband, nerd, pet lover, and AMC/Jeep enthusiast with a B.S. degree in public administration from George Mason University.