The Analytical Engine would have been considered the first “modern” computer if completed that time

The Analytical Engine would have been considered the first “modern” computer

The Analytical Engine was a proposed mechanical general-purpose computer designed by English mathematician and computer pioneer Charles Babbage. It was first described in 1837 as the successor to Babbage’s difference engine, a design for a mechanical computer.

diffengine Analytical Engine


Although it may not resemble computers today, Charles Babbage’s Analytical Engine paved the way for engineers. The Analytical Engine concept included an arithmetic logic unit, control flow in the form of conditional branching and loops and integrated memory. This made it the first design for a general-purpose computer that could be described in modern terms as Turing complete.

it is also known as first programmable device

Analytical Engine First Programable Device

Charles Babbage is widely credited with inventing the first computer in the form of his rudimentary Difference Engine and “general-purpose” Analytical Engine. Despite the fact that neither machine was constructed during Babbage’s lifetime, his designs have since proven capable of adding, subtracting, multiplying, dividing, and even computing high order polynomial functions.

Babbage’s first generation of Engine was called the Difference Engine. Essentially glorified calculators, they were envisioned as decimal digital machines. This means that the Engine used a base 10 number system (decimal) with the familiar numbers “0” through “9” on separate gear wheels. There were no intermediate values between the 10 numbers, thus the “digital” moniker. However, this first machine was an engineer’s nightmare comprised of 25,000 parts and weighing in at close to fifteen tons. It is not surprising that the government soon cut funding to the project and the machine never saw the light of day.

Babbage’s next machine, the Analytical Engine, was far more versatile than its predecessor and was more akin to the modern digital computer. The most noticeable improvement was the creation of two separate mechanisms; the “store” housed all of the numbers and the “mill” was where the arithmetic figuring was carried out. This structure is similar to the modern day segregation of a computer’s memory (“store”) and central processor (“mill”). Babbage and Lovelace noticed that the popular Jacquard loom could create complex weaving patterns in textiles by feeding the machine a specialized punch card. Emulating this basic concept, the Analytical Engine could be tasked to perform complex operations with the input of punched cards.

Source: IEEE & History, Google Images

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Written by Lauren Brien

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