Talk:Charles Babbage

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Programmable computer![edit]

Apparently to this article Konrad Zuse invented the first programmable computer, not Charles Babbage.


"His father's money allowed Charles to receive instruction from several schools "

What a ridiculously biased sentence. Can't you guys give up the marxist crap for a second ? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 04:03, 25 January 2008 (UTC)

wah? surely thats ANTI-Marxist if anything: "Babbage had a good education because of his father's money - therefore capitalism and nepotism are good." -- (talk) 22:19, 21 April 2008 (UTC)


Here's a wonderful Babbage quote that you may want to work in to the article somehow:

On two occasions I have been asked, "Pray, Mr. Babbage, if you put into the machine wrong figures, will the right answers come out?" I am not able rightly to apprehend the kind of confusion of ideas that could provoke such a question.

A google search will turn up zillions of hits on this, with several variants and almost no citations. My quotes.txt has a reference to, which previously linked some good source material on this, but the page seems to be gone now. I posted a summary of what was once there to, and you can see it on dejagoogle. -- B.Bryant

Should this article be turned into one concise article? Instead of 3? --User:Dgrant

Yes, definitely the articles should be merged. AxelBoldt 22:09 Mar 2, 2003 (UTC)

Okay, whoever decides to merge these, leave a note here... and I will do likewise. To prevent duplication of work. -- Dave

Arno seems to have done a very good job of merging them. AxelBoldt 17:17 Mar 7, 2003 (UTC)

Good work User:Arno! This article finally looks nice and clean.
Why, thank you, I'm blushing!! Arno

I just noticed there are a lot one line paragraphs in this article. Is it possible that someone could merge them? I'd rather someone else do it then me, since I don't know much about Babbage. --dave

Date and place of birth[edit]

It seems that there is quite a confusion regarding place and date of birth. Many resources are giving 26th December in 1791 many 26th December in 1782. Also place of birth is sometimes London and sometimes Teignmouth. However, I also found a source saying that the right date is 6th January 1792. Any clues? --Maros 23:16, 28 May 2005 (UTC)

Chambers, Biographical Dictionary, puts his birth at 1792, place of birth "Totnes, Devon" (p. 71)

Yes I have found this same problem. Anyone who can, please check this site: Charles Babbage Biography and verify the information.

Its kinda interesting really... just look at his gravestone it says 1791. I wonder where the guy who carved this stone got the date from. Because if it's wrong... oops. -  6etonyourfeet (talk?) 09:04, 15 October 2007 (UTC)

I think The Times publication year could be wrong because but both the nephew claiming (Dec 1791) and parish confirm the Jan 1791 date claimed by the parish. Also the timing of the recording if true has more credibility (assuming they made the recording on that date) than what the times admits they know little of his early hood. The information provided in this article is unsourced so blah. - 6etonyourfeet (talk?) 09:43, 15 October 2007 (UTC)

I also think that section needs more citations and footnotes because its controversial. - 6etonyourfeet (talk?) 09:46, 15 October 2007 (UTC)

I just now added citations to give more information about Babbage's year of birth. I deleted one reference to a web page since it gave nothing more than the Wikisource page. -- Astrochemist 14:32, 21 October 2007 (UTC)

Babbage vs DE and AE articles[edit]

There is more detail about the difference engine and analytical engine in this main article than there is in the individual articles for them. I think the bulk of the project details (he hired so-and-so, he took a break to tour Europe, he quarrelled with so-and-so) all belong in the sub-articles. Right Now the Article shows a wrong death date... maybe you can verify that too... --Tysto 2005 July 9 18:41 (UTC)


How is it that his last child was born (1829) two years past his wife's death(1827)? Is there an error or missing data (e.g. 2nd wife, mistress, incest)? Dave Adams 15:04, 9 November 2005 (UTC)

Most sources give the number of children as eight. It looks like the imposter is 'Timothy Grant Babbage' added by User: on the 13th Sep (diff). I've reverted the edits. If anyone has a source to the contrary, please add to this discussion and restore young master Tim to the list of offspring. -- Solipsist 18:46, 21 November 2005 (UTC)

Am new here so I am adding this snippet of info. On the 1851 England Census, Charles Babbage had re-married a woman with the name of Susan, unfortunately I have not found her surname from marriage records and he was once again a widow by the time the 1861 census came round. I will try and find a surname to go with the name but it didn't seem appropriate to edit the main article which would only give a surname a vague year of birth and a possible place of birth. However on the 1871 census his son; Henry, was living with him and he was a Lieutenant Colonel, again not a great edal of info but I thought I would share it. Piltdown Man 23:08, 16 May 2006 (UTC)

The Charles Babbage, living in 1851 Chudleigh with his wife Susan and son Henry, was a Master Mason, born in Chudleigh, and so is not the subject of this article... Having said that, I can't find the real Charles Babbage in 1851. Ian Cairns 08:10, 29 September 2006 (UTC)

Difference Engine No. 2[edit]

"Difference Engine No. 2", which was built in 1989-1991" Are those date correct? should't they be 1889 or something? Zaurus

No. It was built within the last two decades from Babbage's original plans. See Difference engine. DanielCristofani 03:54, 11 January 2006 (UTC)

Here is an explanation of those cards written by Babbage himself in Life of a Philosopher: “This machine was also intended to employ several features subsequently used in modern computers, including sequential control, branching, and looping.” Not a bad call for someone who died in 1871. --Paul 07:43, 27 December 2005 (UTC)

Didn't Electronics Boutique used to be called Babbage's many years ago, in honour of Charles Babbage? I distinctly remember purchasing a copy of Civilisation II from a store called Babbages (which was part of a chain) when I was on holiday in the US in the mid-90s (1995, I think). Anyone know anything about this, or is my memory playing tricks on me? - Commander Zulu


I understood Babbage built a device for calculating tables of interest payments, etc. used in banks. Is this true or do I have my facts mixed?

The original and primary purpose for his machines was to automatically calculate and print the huge tables of constants used in navigation and mathematics and astronomy and, yeah, banking. Because the hand-calculated ones that were then in use had many errors in them. He went so far as to devise a scheme for automatically printing a papier-mache type mold which could be used for directly casting the metal printing plates, to prevent transcription errors. But as far as I know, he never completed a full machine, only proof-of-concept working sections. Anyone know otherwise? DanielCristofani 17:22, 7 August 2006 (UTC)

Cultural depictions of Charles Babbage[edit]

I've started an approach that may apply to Wikipedia's Core Biography articles: creating a branching list page based on in popular culture information. I started that last year while I raised Joan of Arc to featured article when I created Cultural depictions of Joan of Arc, which has become a featured list. Recently I also created Cultural depictions of Alexander the Great out of material that had been deleted from the biography article. Since cultural references sometimes get deleted without discussion, I'd like to suggest this approach as a model for the editors here. Regards, Durova 18:54, 17 October 2006 (UTC)


Has anyone got more detail about Babbages other inventions besides the calculating engines. They are always mentioned in passing, but I've seen no detailed descriptions, no pictures, no patent references. Anyone have access to primary Babbage references? --AGoon 09:30, 10 November 2006 (UTC)

I went ahead and deleted the floating sentence about other inventions in the computing section. One would be hard pressed to be able to associate the heliotrope with Babbage. His other inventions have been added under "other accomplishments". Thanks. Chauve-Souris, Brooklyn, NY

Someone needs to find a source for the claim that Babbage invented standard railroad gauge. I'm a hardcore train nut, and everything I have ever read on the development of standard gauge says it was invented by George Stephenson. Babbage's name has never shown up in any of my railroad books. MBTA3247 (talk) 05:13, 15 May 2008 (UTC)

Thanks for picking that point up, it was supported by the BBC article cited, but is patent nonsense. My understanding is that standard gauge wasn't invented by anyone, but was a standard width used for horse drawn railways in the mining area where Stephenson began making railway engines. Babbage's connection with the Great Western makes it even more improbable, as he'd be more likely to support Brunel's broad gauge. The others also look improbable, so I've commented them out and expanded the opthalmoscope item on the basis of the other reference. Looks like we need a reference for the cow-catcher and dynamometer car :) . . dave souza, talk 09:21, 15 May 2008 (UTC) Suggest reference for cow catcher is "Hyman, Anthony (1982). Charles Babbage, Pioneer of the Computer. Oxford University Press. pp. 142–143. ISBN 0-19-858170-X. "Babbage suggested to Hodgson of the railway company what was later to be called a 'cow-catcher' for sweeping obstacles off the line."" as on Cowcather/Train Pilot page.


With this series of edits, IPAddressConflict (talk · contribs) deleted the Named after Babbage section and moved many of the items to Babbage (disambiguation). I've not checked through the missing items, but felt that a "Commemoration" section would be appropriate so will add a brief section pointing to the other page. .. dave souza, talk 18:35, 7 August 2007 (UTC)


I was reading through this article and found that it doesn't say when he died. Does anyone know this information? I know he died in 1871 but i dont know what day. This information needs to be put in. helping make wiki better- dagurlwonder 04:42, 9 August 2007 (UTC)

  • Babbage's date of death is given in the first paragraph, and I just now added it in a second place. Readers also can see the date in the picture of his grave. The section on "Marriage, family ... " needs to be fleshed out by someone familiar with Babbage, or willing to do the research. - Astrochemist 00:59, 10 August 2007 (UTC)

I saw part of Babbage's brain in the Hunterian Museum on Saturday so this entry is incorrect. Here's a citation: —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:15, 16 March 2009 (UTC)

{{Edit semi-protected}} This should also be added: the other half of Babbage's brain (including the cerebellum) is on display in the Science Museum, London. This is mentioned below a photograph in the article of same, but not in the text. Not done: please provide reliable sources that support the change you want to be made. The current two sources are not at all reliable and nothing sources the text in the picture. Celestra (talk) 16:51, 24 October 2010 (UTC)

[Well, I worked in the Science Museum until eight days ago (my name's Amy Crosthwaite - you'll find me in the credits to the 'Who Am I?' project), and anyone can go in and see his half-brain right there opposite the reconstructed Difference Engine. The museum haven't put anything on their site because we concentrate on certain collections rather than the gallery objects, and also have no money to pay anyone to do it. It irritates the hell out of me, but there you go. There's a few other references to it online, but nothing I guess that can be called reliable. The best evidence I've found is this video: which about 1.14 in shows the label mentioning the "Making of the Modern World gallery on the ground floor" - see this map of the Science Museum: on the ground floor, in the right of the pink area. Or I guess you could call them or something.]

Ah! Scratch all of that, here we go:

Done Thanks for improving the article. I had to remove the detail about the cerebellum, since that isn't mentioned, but the rest is verifiable using that last source you supplied. Regards, Celestra (talk) 16:18, 25 October 2010 (UTC)

Explained the human computers comment.[edit]

I felt the phrase; "In Babbage’s time numerical tables were calculated by humans called ‘computers,'" could be confusing to a modern reader who might think "why would they name the people after a device that hadn't been invented yet?'" So I explicated it ("In Babbage’s time numerical tables were calculated by humans called ‘computers,’ meaning "one who computes.""), gave an example ("Much as a conductor is "one who conducts.""), and reinforced it in the next sentence with "At Cambridge he saw the high error rate of this human-driven process," emphasis mine.

I wasn't 100% sure of the example, but I figure it can't hurt and if other people think it too much, they can revert it. - Mattcolville 22:42, 10 September 2007 (UTC)

Musings on vandalism[edit]

I wonder what it is that attracts such an amazing amount and variety of vandalism to this article on Charles Babbage. The vandalism seems much worse than that for the other Wikipedia scientific biographies I follow. I don't want to start a long discussion on this topic, but is there an easy answer or, better yet, a solution? - Astrochemist 16:55, 26 September 2007 (UTC)

I've taken out the part of Eccentricities where he was trying to melt himself. I really do not believe it could happen, but please, if anyone has any references, then give them to us. It would truly be interesting if he was a pyro. --Bookinvestor 09:21, 15 November 2007 (UTC)


The section under education: "Trinity College, Cambridge in October 1810. He had read extensively in Leibniz, Lagrange, Simpson, and Lacroix and was seriously disappointed in the mathematical instruction available at Cambridge. In response, he, John Herschel, George Peacock, and several other friends formed the Analytical Society in 1812. Babbage, Hershell and Peacock were also close friends with future judge and patron of science Edward Ryan. Ultimately, Babbage and Ryan married sisters.[5]

In 1812 Babbage transferred to Peterhouse, Cambridge. He was the top mathematician at Peterhouse, but failed to graduate with honors. He instead received an honorary degree without examination in 1814." seems to haev been taken directly from with no citation of this source.

Is this the case? or did take this passage from wikipedia? —Preceding unsigned comment added by Gitrplaya4u (talkcontribs) 00:00, 25 January 2008 (UTC)

Reference to "Babbage programming language"[edit]

I don't know if the reference to the article named "Babbage - The language of the future" really belongs here, or at least if it should be cited in another way. It's more sarcastic than satirical, and the proposed language is a parody. In the article, Babbage is described in the following way:

"As our namesake, we chose Charles Babbage, who died in poverty while trying to finish building the first computer. The new language is thus named after the first systems designer to go over budget and behind schedule."

It's kind of funny, but it's hardly a tribute to Babbage, and does certainly not belong in the same context as a reference to Ada the language. leifbk (talk) 09:49, 19 February 2008 (UTC)

Why is that reference even in the article? Was is placed to discredit Ada Lovelace? As an attack on the language named after her? Or just completely randomly? It is a completely unrelated and jarring aside that has no place in the article. Perhaps if someone wanted to add a useless "trivia" section of useless information it could be placed there, but it adds nothing to the article. I am going to delete it. --Skintigh (talk) 21:59, 20 January 2011 (UTC)

Replica at Computer History Museum[edit]

The Computer History Museum will in two weeks display the Difference Machine. Is that replica the one issued by Nathan Myhrvold? (talk) 08:29, 28 April 2008 (UTC)

I think the answer to your question is yes. See here.

Babbage's work did not lead to modern computing[edit]

At least, as I understand it, his work was largely overlooked, and modern developments (from the 1930s) came about independently. It's only recently that what he did has been appreciated. eg. see here.

Therefore, I want to amend the early statement in the article: "Babbage is credited with inventing the first mechanical computer that eventually led to more complex designs." Any objections? Earthlyreason (talk) 12:04, 11 May 2008 (UTC)

Can you quantify "only recently" in this context? I've known about Babbage's work as significant to the field of computing for 20 years at least. It might be appropriate to change that wording slightly; can you find a reference to quote so that such a change would not be challenged?  Frank  |  talk  13:11, 11 May 2008 (UTC)
Also Earthlyreason, what would you change it to? Kaiwhakahaere (talk) 20:31, 11 May 2008 (UTC)
Yes, his significance has been appreciated for several decades at least, so perhaps 'recently' was a poor choice. The point is that his work was only seen for what it was after the creation of working computers, as I understand it - though perhaps fairly quickly (1980s?) since the man himself was never forgotten. The reference I gave [1] is a good start, and this from the Science Museum supports what I'm saying:
The movement to automate mathematical calculation in the nineteenth century failed and the impetus to continue this work was largely lost with Babbage’s death. From the vantage point of the modern computer age we are better placed to appreciate the full extent to which Babbage was indeed the first pioneer of computing. [2]
Maybe this whole aspect of being overlooked deserves a paragraph or two.
Earthlyreason (talk) 03:24, 12 May 2008 (UTC)

After some brief further research, it does seem that the question of how much direct influence Babbage's work had is in debate, and this article should reflect that.

We should not confuse two issues here: 1) whether Babbage’s work informed 20th century developments 2) whether he was recognised for it, before recent times

Counter-views: [Babbage and Ada’s work] delineated the components that were to be adopted in subsequent machines. These … were ultimately to lead to the development of electronic computing systems in the following century.[3]

This review of Swade’s book criticises its appreciation of Babbage's contributions to the development of modern computing machine [4]

It is only recently that [Ada’s] contribution to the development of modern computer principles has received the recognition it deserves.[5] Earthlyreason (talk) 04:07, 12 May 2008 (UTC)

Babbage'e engine was manufactured during 1830-35 while Boole published his essay on binary logic during 1835-40. It means Babbage's engine was not strictly a computer in the current sense. It means Ada was not the world's first programmer.Anwar (talk) 11:36, 18 May 2008 (UTC)

If you look in the "Marriage, family, death" section, you'll see:
'His youngest son, Henry Prevost Babbage (1824-1918), went on to create six working difference engines based on his father's designs[1], one of which was sent to Howard H. Aiken, pioneer of the Harvard Mark I. Henry Prevost's 1910 Analytical Engine Mill, previously on display at Dudmaston Hall, is now on display at the Science Museum[2].'
From this it is reasonable to conclude that Charles Babbage's design was directly influential on modern computing, starting with the Harvard Mark I. Andrew Oakley (talk) 08:09, 30 July 2008 (UTC)


I really want to be a snot right now and call you all sorts of names. Read up on Herman Hollerith he is credited with being a founder of IBM and Aiken built computers for IBM. If anything is important about Babbage it was that he used the punch card concept. We know the difference engine didnt work right? I'm not quite sure what his son did however I do know the analytical engine worked and did infact use punch cards. So why did you make the jump from Babbage to Aiken I don't know much about Aiken but I would bet he used punch cards! As far as our good addict Lovelace goes I'm not sure if she is the first computer programmer. I do know that many people think she created a program which is just a simple algorithm. For me if I took notes on the Principia and had to translate from english to spanish I would learn some calculus its called tacit. Make the connection from Babbage to Hollerith not Babbage to Aiken because it does not add up. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:37, 10 November 2010 (UTC)


Babbage published a book lamenting the "decline" of science in England in the late 1820s.(!?)Anwar (talk) 15:55, 17 May 2008 (UTC)


The following is quoted in the article:

Every moment dies a man,
Every moment 1 1/16 is born.

I believe Babbage knew about scansion and what he proposed was

Every moment dies a man,
And one and one sixteenth is born.

There are various sources giving this version, but they are Internet quote sites. Does anyone have a reliable source? Rjm at sleepers (talk) 09:13, 25 May 2008 (UTC)

I haven't checked to see who added that quotation or when, but back in February I added this reference for it: Swade, Doron (2000). The Difference Engine. New York: Viking. p. 77.  Unfortunately, my copy of Swade's book is not close at hand, so I can't check the precise wording. Can someone else? - Astrochemist (talk) 23:30, 25 May 2008 (UTC)


I want to know whether this page is displayed in this way (in Modern skin). Till yesterday my Infobox was displayed as in Mono style. But today problem is happened. Check the screenshot.

File:Babbage (1).jpg
Screen shot of the Display

-- Sidharthan (talk) 15:58, 28 July 2008 (UTC)

Leaving Charles Babbage[edit]

According to this site I've been one of the more-regular contributors to Charles Babbage's Wikipedia article during the past two years. Unfortunately, the vandals have worn me down, and so I'm taking this page off of my watchlist. My thanks to everyone for all that I've learned about Mr. Babbage, and for accepting my additions of text, reference checking, citation format, external links, and one photo. Good luck with this page in the future. - Astrochemist (talk) 20:23, 17 September 2008 (UTC)

Thanks for all the work, you're absolutely right as WP is here to be fun, not drudgery. We'll try to keep the barbarians at bay! . . dave souza, talk 10:01, 29 January 2009 (UTC)

Lucasian Professor[edit]

He held this post for 11 years, but left it long before he died. It would be interesting to know why he left such a prestigious position. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Bigmac31 (talkcontribs) 19:38, 11 November 2008 (UTC)

Sounds like useful research, perhaps you could try to find verifiable sources giving that information? . dave souza, talk 10:03, 29 January 2009 (UTC)
Passages from the Life of a Philosopher, Pg.31: "In 1839 the demands of the Analytical Engine upon my attention had become so incessant and so exhausting, that even the few duties of the Lucasian Chair had a sensible effect in impairing my bodily strength. I therefore sent in my resignation." - Verifiable enough? :) (talk) 13:26, 9 February 2010 (UTC)

New file File:Charles Babbage by Samuel Laurence.jpg[edit]

Charles Babbage by Samuel Laurence.jpg

Recently the file File:Charles Babbage by Samuel Laurence.jpg (right) was uploaded and it appears to be relevant to this article and not currently used by it. If you're interested and think it would be a useful addition, please feel free to include it. Dcoetzee 04:16, 2 April 2009 (UTC)

Computer history museum in California[edit]

I removed the sentence

It remained there until April 2009, after which it was moved to Myhrvold's personal collection.

The replica is still on display at the Computer History Museum, I think until sometime next year. I just took some pictures of it there last week. (talk) 06:08, 6 September 2009 (UTC)

Edit request from Yuon.yeung, 25 May 2010[edit]

{{editsemiprotected}} The text says 1791 while the side thing says 1792 Yuon.yeung (talk) 03:15, 25 May 2010 (UTC) Not done for now:Please contact one of the primary editors of this article to see if they can determine which date is correct. Spitfire19 (Talk) 04:23, 25 May 2010 (UTC)

Edit (Addition) Suggestion -- Anon User 9/15/10[edit]

{{edit semi-protected}}

New bullet point suggestion for the "Commemoration" section:

  • The name of software retailer Babbage's was another obvious eponym. Babbage's was founded in 1984 in Dallas, Texas, and operated until 1994 under the name, before a series of mergers swept the retail software business. As a result of these mergers, Babbage's became GameStop, now a Fortune 500 company and the world’s largest video game and entertainment software retailer.
  • Not done for now: Please provide a reference for your addition. -- Crazysane (T/C\D) 12:45, 15 September 2010 (UTC)

The reference is the Gamestop Wikipedia article. It's not the reference for my knowledge of it, but it ought to be suitable to fit your needs. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 09:10, 17 September 2010 (UTC)

Edit (Addition) Suggestion -- Anon User 11/9/10[edit]

{{edit semi-protected}}

Should one of his proffessions be listed as Cryptography?

This appears in the cryptography article: "In the mid-19th century Charles Babbage showed that polyalphabetic ciphers of this type remained partially vulnerable to extended frequency analysis techniques."

I know it's linked to mathematics but I wasn't sure whether his contributions to cryptography warrant an additional proffession or feild of study or whatever at the start of the article.

less emphasis on the difference engine, its not important.[edit]

this history is crap. all it talks about is the difference engine. blah blah blah? yet it mentions in the beginning that Babbage came up with the idea of a programmable computer. difference engines are not programmable. so get rid of it. you need to talk about the analytical engine because its clearly the more important of the two in its role of modern computing and less emphasis should be made concern the difference engine because its no different then the thousand of mechanical calculators that came before it, such as the pascaline, the stepped reckoner, and napiers bones. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:55, 11 December 2010 (UTC)'s reading seems to be as faulty as his writing. He clearly hasn't read the article fully. -- Jmc (talk) 17:54, 11 December 2010 (UTC)

Okay your right. I read it again, and I did not see that the Difference Engine calculated by using calculus. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:03, 12 December 2010 (UTC)

Link towards the LOCOMAT collection[edit]

Do you think it appropriate to add a link towards my locomat ( collection of reconstructions of mathematical tables? It contains full analysis and reconstruction of Babbage's table of logarithms.Roegel (talk) 19:07, 11 December 2010 (UTC)


Added point about source of funds for his work. Oxford73 (talk) 13:54, 7 May 2011 (UTC)


I'd suggest transwiki-ing the quotations list to wikiquote. Any objections? Jodi.a.schneider (talk) 01:35, 20 June 2011 (UTC)

Things Named After Babbage[edit]

Babbage-Simmel - — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:49, 5 March 2013 (UTC)

Major edit[edit]

I'm undertaking a major edit to clean up and expand this article for the Core Contest.

The referencing style seems very problematic, with Harvardish bits that seem to me not to be helpful. Would anyone mind if I simplified and standardised the referencing? Charles Matthews (talk) 06:06, 19 April 2013 (UTC)

I have noticed that has closely related text. But the book in question is dated 2007; the text was here in 2006. So not copied by Wikipedia from that edition, at least. Charles Matthews (talk) 19:26, 19 April 2013 (UTC)


This is an awesome portrait. He's totally got that Johnny Cash thing going on. Total badass. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 08:03, 10 August 2013 (UTC)

Babbage Lectures On Astronomy (at Royal Institution) 1815[edit]

Please add the following reference

Charles Babbage (1815) Lectures on Astronomy in Blog Format — Preceding unsigned comment added by Cjdroberts (talkcontribs) 11:14, 11 November 2013 (UTC)

New photos on Commons from the Royal Society Library[edit]

As part of Wikipedia:WikiProject Royal Society a special photo session in the Royal Society Library in London has resulted in Commons:Category:Royal Society Library, with over 50 photos of their treasures, mostly 17th century manuscripts, including several of Herschel's correspondence with Babbage, Charles Blagden's diaries, the 1st edn of Sylva, one of the early minute books, Boyle's notebooks etc, the manuscript fair copy of Newton's Principia etc. Please add these as appropriate. Thanks! Wiki at Royal Society John (talk) 22:05, 25 June 2014 (UTC)

Thanks, Royal Society. I assume that you are editing for reward [6] [7], but don't let that stop your helpful edits. Xxanthippe (talk) 22:58, 25 June 2014 (UTC).
Yes, as Wikipedian in Residence - see User:Wiki at Royal Society John/Conflict of Interest statement. Wiki at Royal Society John (talk) 23:24, 25 June 2014 (UTC)
Splendid. I wish all paid editors were as open as you. Xxanthippe (talk) 01:39, 26 June 2014 (UTC).

Semi-protected edit request on 11 July 2014[edit]

On the first line of the "Computing pioneer" section, the article declares that the fact the machines "were not actually completed was largely because of funding problems and personality issues."
I believe it should say "funding problems and personal issues."
If I'm mistaken, then I would like a section explaining the details of his "personality issues", and citing relevant sources. (talk) 19:40, 11 July 2014 (UTC)

I don't see any need for this change. Xxanthippe (talk) 22:30, 11 July 2014 (UTC).
"Personality issues" is more appropriate than "personal issues". See, for example, Doron Swade The Cogwheel Brain pp. 186-188. -- Jmc (talk) 04:38, 13 July 2014 (UTC)
It may serve to clarify if the sentence in question were reworded to read "... because of funding problems and clashes of personality, most notably with Airy, the Astronomer Royal", citing the Swade reference. If there's no objection, I'll edit accordingly. -- Jmc (talk) 07:09, 13 July 2014 (UTC)
Yellow check.svg Partly done: Jmc already reworded to his version. As for the additional section you requested, you'll need to provide the text and sources you want to see included. —cyberpower ChatOnline 08:24, 22 July 2014 (UTC)

Vital Statistics Charles Babbage (1791-1871) was born in Walworth, Surrey, on December 26, 1791. He was one of four children born to the banker Benjamin Babbage and Elizabeth Teape. He attended Trinity, Cambridge, in 1810 to study mathematics, graduated without honors from Peterhouse in 1814 and received an MA in 1817. In 1814 he married Georgiana Whitmore with whom he had eight children, only three of whom lived to adulthood. The couple made their home in London off Portland Place in 1815. His wife, father, and two of his children died in 1827. In 1828 Babbage moved to 1 Dorset Street, Marylebone, which remained his home till his death in 1871. He was elected a fellow of the Royal Society in 1816 and occupied the Lucasian chair of mathematics at Cambridge University from 1828 to 1839. He died on October 18, 1871 and was buried at Kensal Green cemetery in London. Gentleman of Science Science was not an established profession, and Babbage, like many of his contemporaries, was a 'gentleman scientist' - an independently wealthy amateur well able to support his interests from his own means. The scope of Babbage's interests was polymathically wide even by the generous standards of the day. Between 1813 and 1868 he published six full-length works and nearly ninety papers. He was a prolific inventor, mathematician, scientist, reforming critic of the scientific establishment and political economist. He pioneered lighthouse signalling, invented the ophthalmoscope, proposed 'black box' recorders for monitoring the conditions preceding railway catastrophes, advocated decimal currency, proposed the use of tidal power once coal reserves were exhausted, designed a cow-catcher for the front end of railway locomotives, failsafe quick release couplings for railway carriages, multi-colored theatre lighting, an altimeter, a seismic detector, a tugboat for winching vessels upstream, a 'hydrofoil' and an arcade game for members of the public to challenge in a game of tic-tac-toe. His interests included lock picking, ciphers, chess, submarine propulsion, armaments, and diving bells. Babbage was a prominent figure, regarded as colorfully controversial and even eccentric at home in England, yet feted with honors by Continental academies. He ached for recognition and was aggrieved at its lack grumbling that the Lucasian chair of mathematics at Cambridge, was the only honor bestowed on him by his country. Personal Life Babbage married Georgiana Whitmore in 1814, against his father's wishes. The marriage was a very happy one. Tragedy struck in 1827. In the space of a year his father with whom he had had a troubled relationship, his second son (Charles), Georgiana and a newborn son all died. Babbage was inconsolable. Close to breakdown he went on an extended trip on the Continent. There was a further cruel blow. His daughter, Georgiana, on whom he doted, died while still in her teens sometime around 1834. Babbage immersed himself in work. On his father's death he inherited an estate valued at £100,000, a sizeable fortune - somewhere between $6 and $30 million dollars in today's terms. He never remarried. In the 1830s Babbage was a lion of the London social scene. His Saturday soirees were sparkling events in the London social calendar, and his house in Dorset Street was a hub of social and intellectual life. Celebrities, civil dignitaries, authors, actors, scientists, bishops, bankers, politicians, industrialists and socialites converged for gossip, intrigue, and the latest in science, literature, philosophy and art. 'All were eager to go to his glorious soirees' wrote Harriet Martineau, writer and philosopher. Babbage was also a sought-after dinner guest with a reputation for being a captivating raconteur. 'Mr. Babbage is coming to dinner' was a coup for any hostess. The 'Irascible Genius' Diplomacy was not Babbage's forte and his social and professional personas were at war. Proud and principled, he was capable of incontinent savagery in his public attacks on the scientific establishment, often beyond ordinary sensibility. He offended many whose support he needed behaving sometimes as though being right entitled him to be rude. The title of the first biography on his life was called 'Irascible Genius: A Life of Charles Babbage, Inventor'. The twin characteristics of irascibility and genius remain the defining signatures of his historical portrait. Epilogue In a prophetic passage written towards the end of his life Babbage affirmed his conviction in the value of his work. 'If unwarned by my example, any man shall undertake and shall succeed in really constructing an engine ... upon different principles or by simpler mechanical means, I have no fear of leaving my reputation in his charge, for he alone will be fully able to appreciate the nature of my efforts and the value of their results.' — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:00, 28 September 2014 (UTC)

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Semi-protected edit request on 14 September 2015[edit]

please not a very small error in a quote;See the ref number[95],,,the text has the word `can` inserted into the test ie the original reads" we may also be permitted to...` whereas the present text reads;`we may can also be permitted to` (talk) 12:00, 14 September 2015 (UTC) John

Yes check.svg Done -- Sam Sailor Talk! 16:33, 14 September 2015 (UTC)


I felt this article was very informative about his difference engine and publications, but felt it was lacking in his other areas of expertise.

I would suggest this for more information on his writings concerning his interests in mechanical engineering: — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 04:41, 14 October 2015 (UTC)

Semi-protected edit request on 10 February 2016[edit]

Hyperlink "Babbage published On the Economy of Machinery and Manufactures (1832)" to (talk) 13:56, 10 February 2016 (UTC)

Not done - Firstly we do not put links into articles - Secondly that link is to a copy behind a pay-wall whereas the Google books version listed in the external links is free, Arjayay (talk) 14:48, 10 February 2016 (UTC)

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Marx on profits and productivity[edit]

The article contains the following assertion:

Where Marx picked up on Babbage and disagreed with Smith was on the motivation for division of labour by the manufacturer: as Babbage did, he wrote that it was for the sake of profitability, rather than productivity, and identified an impact on the concept of a trade.[83]

It's not clear how profit is being distinguished from productivity. The two concepts, in classical political economy, are actually interrelated such that higher productivity leads to such things as greater output, competitive advantage, cheaper goods, and more profits. In Marx, for example, by increasing the productivity of labour, the capitalist extracts greater surplus value (chapter 12) which was a way to overcome the shortening of the working day.

Marx now defines productivity: 'Hence the conditions of production ... i.e., his mode of production, and the labour process itself, must be revolutionized. By an increase in the productivity of labour, we mean an alternation in the labour process of such a kind as to shorten the labour-time socially necessary for the production of a commodity, and to endow a given quantity of labour with the power of producing a greater quantity of use-value.' (Capital V1, Fowkes ed, p.431)

an increase in productivity lowers the value of labour power (wages) and lowers the costs of those branches of industry which produce food, clothing, shelter, etc for workers. Capitalists don't increase productivity for this purpose which was an unintended consequences of all capitalists in all industries trying to increase productivity, rather each capitalist tried to increase productivity in order to gain a competitive advantage (p. 433)

Capital...has an immanent drive, and a constant tendency, towards increasing the productivity of labour, in order to cheapen commodities and, by cheapening commodities, to cheapen the worker him/herself.' (p.436-7)... 'The absolute value of a commodity is, in itself, of no interest to the capitalist who produces it. All that interests him is the surplus-value present in it, which can be realized by sale.' (p.437)

So how is productivity different from profits as the article implies? Perhaps some clarification is needed? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:19, 16 January 2017 (UTC)

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Robert Recorde[edit]

I have removed the reference to Recorde as a predecessor; what John Tucker claims is merely that he, and his contemporaries, used logical argumentation, which formed a foundation for logical computing...a very wide gap separates the two, and there is no claim that Recorde was special in his achievement in this regard. Clean Copytalk 10:40, 13 June 2017 (UTC)