Charles Babbage

William Whewell and the History of Science

William Whewell and the History of Science

On May 24, 1794, English polymath, scientist, Anglican priest, philosopher, theologian, and historian of science William Whewell was born. What is most often remarked about Whewell is the breadth of his endeavors. He published work in the disciplines of mechanics, physics, geology, astronomy, and economics, while also finding the time to compose poetry. One of Whewell’s greatest gifts to science was his wordsmithing. Amongst others, he also coined the word “Scientist”. “Every…
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Konrad Zuse – The German Inventor of the Computer

Konrad Zuse – The German Inventor of the Computer

On December 18, 1995, German engineer and computer pioneer Konrad Zuse passed away. He is renowned to have constructed the very first functional program-controlled Turing-complete computer,which was freely programmable and provided binary floating point arithmetics: the Z3, which became operational in May 1941. “The belief in a certain idea gives to the researcher the support for his work. Without this belief he would be lost in a sea of doubts and insufficiently…
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Joseph Marie Jacquard and the Programmable Loom

Joseph Marie Jacquard and the Programmable Loom

On July 7, 1752, French weaver and merchant Joseph Marie Jacquard was born. He is best known for his invention of the programmable loom, the “Jacquard loom“, which in turn played an important role in the development of the computer. Back in the 18th century, literally nobody – maybe with the exception people like Leibniz [4] or Pascal [5] – thought about a programmable computer. But, it was the time, the industrial revolution should get…
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Augustus de Morgan and Formal Logic

Augustus de Morgan and Formal Logic

On June 27, 1806, British mathematician and logician Augustus De Morgan was born. He formulated De Morgan‘s laws and introduced the term mathematical induction, a method of mathematical proof typically used to establish a given statement for all natural numbers. As a computer scientist, I am of course familiar with De Morgan‘s laws, which are fundamental for Boolean logic. De Morgan‘s laws are merely transformation rules for two of the basic operators…
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A Computer can do More than just Mechanical Calculations – The Life of Ada Lovelace

A Computer can do More than just Mechanical Calculations – The Life of Ada Lovelace

On November 27, 1852, Augusta Ada King, Countess of Lovelace passed away. She is known as assistant to mathematician Charles Babbage, [1] inventor of the very first programmable (mechanical) computer, the analytical engine. Moreover, she is believed by some to be the first to recognise that the machine had applications beyond pure calculation, and to have published the first algorithm intended to be carried out by such a machine. Every student of computer science has most…
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Charles Babbage – The Father of the Computer who hated Street Music

Charles Babbage – The Father of the Computer who hated Street Music

On October 18, 1871, Charles Babbage, mathematician, inventor and early computer scientist passed away. We think, everybody should know about Charles Babbage and his seminal work on the first mechanical universal computer, the Analytical Engine. Although the Analytical Engine never was build during his lifetime, due to the lack of according fine mechanics in the 19th century, Babbage sketched out everything necessary to construct and to program a universal computer. “The whole…
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Vannevar Bush and his Vision of the Memex Memory Extender

Vannevar Bush and his Vision of the Memex Memory Extender

On March 11, 1890, American engineer, inventor and science administrator Vannevar Bush was born. He is best known as as head of the U.S. Office of Scientific Research and Development (OSRD) during World War II, through which almost all wartime military research and development was carried out, including initiation of the Manhattan Project. In computer science we know Vannevar Bush as the father of the Memex, an adjustable microfilm viewer with a…
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John Herschel – a Pioneer in Celestial Photography

John Herschel – a Pioneer in Celestial Photography

On March 7, 1792, English polymath, mathematician, astronomer, chemist, inventor, and experimental photographer Sir John Herschel was born. Herschel originated the use of the Julian day system in astronomy and named seven moons of Saturn and four moons of Uranus. He made many contributions to the science of photography, and investigated colour blindness and the chemical power of ultraviolet rays. Overall, he advocated an inductive approach to scientific experiment and theory building,…
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Leslie Comrie – a Pioneer in Mechanical Computation

Leslie Comrie – a Pioneer in Mechanical Computation

On August 15, 1893, New Zealand astronomer Leslie John Comrie was born. Comrie was a pioneer in the application of punched-card machinery to astronomical calculations and founded the world’s first private company for scientific computing in 1937. Leslie John Comrie was born in Pukekohe near Auckland, New Zealand. He attended Auckland University College, which is part of the University of New Zealand from 1912 to 1916, graduating with BA and MA degrees with Honours in Chemistry.…
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The Astronomical Achievements of Sir George Biddell Airy

The Astronomical Achievements of Sir George Biddell Airy

On July 27, 1801, English mathematician, astronomer, and Astronomer Royal George Biddell Airy was born. His many achievements include work on planetary orbits, measuring the mean density of the Earth, a method of solution of two-dimensional problems in solid mechanics and, in his role as Astronomer Royal, establishing Greenwich as the location of the prime meridian. “It is not simply that a clear understanding is acquired of the movements of the great bodies which we regard as the system of the…
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