A Halkett boat is a type of lightweight inflatable boat designed by Lt Peter Halkett (1820–1885) during the 1840s. Halkett had long been interested in the difficulties of travelling in the Canadian Arctic, and the problems involved in designing boats light enough to be carried over arduous terrain, but robust enough to be used in extreme weather conditions.
Halkett's first design was a collapsible and inflatable boat made of rubber-impregnated cloth. When deflated, the hull of the boat could be worn as a cloak, the oar used as a walking stick, and the sail as an umbrella. This was followed by a two-man craft that was small enough to fit into a knapsack, and when deflated served as a waterproof blanket.
Although widely praised by Canadian explorers, Halkett's designs had a limited market, and he was unable to persuade the Royal Navy that they would serve any useful purpose in general naval service. Efforts to market them as platforms for fishing and duck shooting failed, and they were commercially unsuccessful. Only two Halkett boats, that of Orcadian explorer John Rae, and one held in the Hudson's Bay Company Museum Collection at the Manitoba Museum are known to survive today.
The historical difficulty in producing error-free tables by teams of mathematicians and human "computers" spurred Charles Babbage's desire to build a mechanism to automate the process. It is considered to be the world's first computer.