Charles Babbage (Dictionary of World Biography: The 19th Century)
Article abstract: Babbage conceptually anticipated many of the developments realized in twentieth century computation science. He contributed to the mathematics of his time and invented several practical devices.
Charles Babbage, the first child of Benjamin and Elizabeth (Teape) Babbage, was born on December 26, 1791. The exact location of his birth is not known, but it was in the vicinity of London, where his father was a well-to-do banker. The family, on both sides, had been comfortably established in the nearby countryside for several generations. Two more sons were born but died in early childhood. A daughter, Mary Anne, outlived her brother Charles, with whom she had a lifelong close relationship.
As a young child, Charles was subject to fevers, which were naturally of great concern to his parents; when it came time for some formal education, he was placed under the tutelage of a clergyman with the admonition “to attend to his health, but not to press too much knowledge upon him.” He later attended school in Enfield, where he was instructed in the classics. Charles’s natural aptitude for mathematics in particular, and logical, systematic thinking in general, manifested itself early. As a schoolboy he discovered algebra and, for several months, arose at 3 a.m. for self-instruction along with a similarly precocious classmate.
As he grew older, Charles became more robust, and...
(The entire section is 1984 words.)
Want to Read More?
Subscribe now to read the rest of this article. Plus get complete access to 30,000+ study guides!