Computing History

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0001 The Antikythera mechanism was constructed

The Antikythera mechanism is an ancient mechanical computer designed to calculate astronomical positions. It was recovered in 1900–1901 from the Antikythera wreck. Its significance and complexity were not understood until decades later. Its time of construction is now estimated between 150 and 100 BC. Technological artifacts of similar complexity and workmanship did not reappear until the 14th century, when mechanical astronomical clocks were built in Europe.

1791 Charles Babbage is Born

Charles Babbage is born in Teignmouth, Devonshire. He entered Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1811 and received his MA in 1817. In 1816 Babbage was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society. In 1820 he played a prominent role in the foundation of the Royal Ast.

1815 Augusta Ada King, Lady Lovelace is Born

Augusta Ada King, Lady Lovelace, is born. Her father was Lord Byron, the famous poet. She was educated by private tutors, advanced study in mathematics being provided by De Morgan. Considered the first computer programmer, Ada worked with Charles Babbage writing extensive comments on his Difference Engine and Analytical Engine, and programming for the last one. She died on November 27, 1852


A century later, in the 1970's, the computer language ADA was developed and named after Ada, Lady Lovelace. Based on the language PASCAL, ADA is a general-purpose language designed to be readable and easily maintained.

Computer Pioneers - Pioneer Computers Part 1

1822 Charles Babbage takes first steps in the construction of machines

Charles Babbage proposed the construction of machines for use in the "computation of astronomical and mathematical tables". Although the designs Babbage attempted to build never worked properly, they represent the first steps in the construction of machines that would compute numbers faster and more accurately than humans performing the same job.

5th June 1833 Ada Lovelace Meets Charles Babbage

Ada Byron, Later to be Countess Lovelace, first meets Charles Babbage in England. Babbage was known for his designs of early calculating machines, including his "Difference Engine" (1823) and "Analytical Engine" (1834). Although he never completed the machines, Babbage became a father of computing after his close friend Ada published a description of his work.

Although often referred to as Ada Byron, her real name was Ada Gordon (her father, always referred to by his title of Lord Byron, was actually named George Gordon). She later married Edward King (thus she became Ada King) and, when he was made the Earl of Lovelace, Ada became the Countess Lovelace.

1837 Charles Babbage published a paper describing a mechanical computer

In December 1837, the British mathematician Charles Babbage published a paper describing a mechanical computer that is now known as the Analytical Engine. Anyone intimate with the details of electronic computers will instantly recognize the components of Babbage's machine. Although Babbage was designing with brass and iron, his Engine has a central processing unit (which he called the mill) and a large amount of expandable memory (which he called the store). The operation of the Engine is controlled by program stored on punched cards, and punched cards can also be used to input data

1888 Babbage's Analytical Engine Operates For The First Time

Babbage's Analytical Engine Passes the First Test


The Analytical Engine of Charles Babbage was never completed in his lifetime, but his son Henry Provost Babbage built the mill portion of the machine from his father's drawings, and on January 21, 1888 computed multiples of pi to prove the adequacy of the design. Perhaps this represents the first successful test of a portion of a modern computer. Recently a portion of his earlier machine, the Difference Engine, was sold at auction by Christies of London to the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney, Australia.