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Doron Swade

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Charles Babbage's Difference Engine in the Science Museum (London), built on a project led by Doron Swade.

Doron Swade MBE, born 1944, is a museum curator and author, specialising in the history of computing. He is especially known for his work on the computer pioneer Charles Babbage and his Difference Engine.[1]

Swade was originally from South Africa. He has studied electronics engineering, history, machine intelligence, philosophy of science and physics at a number of universities including the University of Cape Town, University of Cambridge, and University College London (UCL).[2] He holds a BSc in physics and electronics engineering, an MSc in control engineering, and a PhD in the history of computing from UCL.

He has been a curator at the Science Museum in London, England,[3][4] and the Computer History Museum in Silicon Valley, California, United States.[2] At the Science Museum, he curated the computing and electronics collections and rose to be Assistant Director and Head of Collections. His major project at the museum was to organise the construction of Charles Babbage's Difference Engine, in collaboration with Dr Allan Bromley who studied Babbage's original drawings at the Science Museum.

In 1989, Swade was a co-founder of the Computer Conservation Society, a specialist group of the British Computer Society (BCS), with regular meetings at the Science Museum. He is a Fellow of the BCS and a Chartered Engineer.

Swade is a visiting professor in the history of computing at the University of Portsmouth, UK.[5] He is also an honorary research fellow in computer science at Royal Holloway, University of London.[2]

He appeared in the In Our Time program on Ada Lovelace, a collaborator with Charles Babbage, broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in 2008.[5]

Swade was awarded an MBE for services to the history of computing in the UK New Year Honours 2009 list.[6]

Since 2010, Swade has been involved with the Plan 28 project to understand whether Babbage's Analytical Engine was a feasible computer based on Babbage's work, and to build a simulation. [7]


Swade has written the following books:[8][9]

  • The Dream Machine: Exploring the Computer Age, 1991. BBC Books, 1993. With Jon Palfreman. ISBN 978-0-563-36992-9.
  • Charles Babbage and his Calculating Engines, Science Museum, London, 1998. ISBN 978-0-901805-45-4.
  • The Cogwheel Brain, Abacus, 2001. ISBN 978-0-349-11239-8.
  • The Difference Engine: Charles Babbage and the Quest to Build the First Computer, Penguin Putnam, 2001. ISBN 978-0-670-91020-5. Penguin Books, 2002. ISBN 978-0-14-200144-8.
  • The History of Computing: A Very Short Introduction, Oxford University Press, 2022. ISBN 9780198831754.


  1. ^ Doron Swade, Computing History, UK.
  2. ^ a b c Doron Swade Archived 26 January 2009 at the Wayback Machine, Computer History Museum, California, USA.
  3. ^ Doron Swade and the Phillip's Economic Computer, 1990s, Science Museum, London, UK.
  4. ^ Doron Swade, 'Two Cultures: Computer Art and the Science Museum', chapter 16, pages 203–218. In Paul Brown, Charlie Gere, Nicholas Lambert, and Catherine Mason (editors), White Heat Cold Logic. The MIT Press, 2008. ISBN 978-0-262-02653-6.
  5. ^ a b Ada Lovelace, In Our Time, BBC Radio 4, 6 March 2008.
  6. ^ Kingston computer historian, nurse and volunteer get New Year honours, Your Local Guardian, UK, 31 December 2008.
  7. ^ "Plan 28: Analytical Engine project gets underway". blog.jgc.org. Retrieved 8 January 2018.
  8. ^ Doron Swade: Bibliography, Amazon.com.
  9. ^ Doron Swade, LibraryThing.

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