Charles Babbage

Computer Scientist

Charles Babbage was born on December 26th, 1791 in London and is the Computer Scientist from England. Discover Charles Babbage's biography, age, height, physical stats, dating/affair, family, hobbies, education, career updates, and networth at the age of 79 years old.

Date of Birth
December 26, 1791
Place of Birth
Death Date
Oct 18, 1871 (age 79)
Zodiac Sign
Astronomer, Computer Scientist, Economist, Engineer, Inventor, Lucasian Professor Of Mathematics, Mathematician, Philosopher, Professor
Charles Babbage Height, Weight, Eye Color and Hair Color

At 79 years old, Charles Babbage physical status not available right now. We will update Charles Babbage's height, weight, eye color, hair color, build, and measurements.

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Hair Color
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Eye Color
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Charles Babbage Religion, Education, and Hobbies
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Peterhouse, Cambridge
Charles Babbage Spouse(s), Children, Affair, Parents, and Family
Georgiana Whitmore, ​ ​(m. 1814⁠–⁠1827)​
8, including Benjamin Herschel Babbage
Dating / Affair
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William Wolryche-Whitmore (brother-in-law)
About Charles Babbage

Charles Babbage (26 December 1791 – 18 October 1871) was an English polymath.

A mathematician, philosopher, inventor and mechanical engineer, Babbage originated the concept of a digital programmable computer.Considered by some to be a "father of the computer", Babbage is credited with inventing the first mechanical computer that eventually led to more complex electronic designs, though all the essential ideas of modern computers are to be found in Babbage's Analytical Engine.

His varied work in other fields has led him to be described as "pre-eminent" among the many polymaths of his century.Parts of Babbage's incomplete mechanisms are on display in the Science Museum in London.

In 1991, a functioning difference engine was constructed from Babbage's original plans.

Built to tolerances achievable in the 19th century, the success of the finished engine indicated that Babbage's machine would have worked.

Early life

Babbage's birthplace is disputed, but according to the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography he was most likely born at 44 Crosby Row, Walworth Road, London, England. A blue plaque on the junction of Larcom Street and Walworth Road commemorates the event.

His date of birth was given in his obituary in The Times as 26 December 1792; but then a nephew wrote to say that Babbage was born one year earlier, in 1791. The parish register of St. Mary's, Newington, London, shows that Babbage was baptised on 6 January 1792, supporting a birth year of 1791.

Babbage was one of four children of Benjamin Babbage and Betsy Plumleigh Teape. His father was a banking partner of William Praed in founding Praed's & Co. of Fleet Street, London, in 1801. In 1808, the Babbage family moved into the old Rowdens house in East Teignmouth. Around the age of eight, Babbage was sent to a country school in Alphington near Exeter to recover from a life-threatening fever. For a short time, he attended King Edward VI Grammar School in Totnes, South Devon, but his health forced him back to private tutors for a time.

Babbage then joined the 30-student Holmwood Academy, in Baker Street, Enfield, Middlesex, under the Reverend Stephen Freeman. The academy had a library that prompted Babbage's love of mathematics. He studied with two more private tutors after leaving the academy. The first was a clergyman near Cambridge; through him Babbage encountered Charles Simeon and his evangelical followers, but the tuition was not what he needed. He was brought home, to study at the Totnes school: this was at age 16 or 17. The second was an Oxford tutor, under whom Babbage reached a level in Classics sufficient to be accepted by the University of Cambridge.

Later life

The British Association was consciously modelled on the Deutsche Naturforscher-Versammlung, founded in 1822. It rejected romantic science as well as metaphysics, and started to entrench the divisions of science from literature, and professionals from amateurs. Belonging as he did to the "Wattite" faction in the BAAS, represented in particular by James Watt the younger, Babbage identified closely with industrialists. He wanted to go faster in the same directions, and had little time for the more gentlemanly component of its membership. Indeed, he subscribed to a version of conjectural history that placed industrial society as the culmination of human development (and shared this view with Herschel). A clash with Roderick Murchison led in 1838 to his withdrawal from further involvement. At the end of the same year he sent in his resignation as Lucasian professor, walking away also from the Cambridge struggle with Whewell. His interests became more focussed, on computation and metrology, and on international contacts.

A project announced by Babbage was to tabulate all physical constants (referred to as "constants of nature", a phrase in itself a neologism), and then to compile an encyclopaedic work of numerical information. He was a pioneer in the field of "absolute measurement". His ideas followed on from those of Johann Christian Poggendorff, and were mentioned to Brewster in 1832. There were to be 19 categories of constants, and Ian Hacking sees these as reflecting in part Babbage's "eccentric enthusiasms". Babbage's paper On Tables of the Constants of Nature and Art was reprinted by the Smithsonian Institution in 1856, with an added note that the physical tables of Arnold Henry Guyot "will form a part of the important work proposed in this article".

Exact measurement was also key to the development of machine tools. Here again Babbage is considered a pioneer, with Henry Maudslay, William Sellers, and Joseph Whitworth.

Through the Royal Society Babbage acquired the friendship of the engineer Marc Brunel. It was through Brunel that Babbage knew of Joseph Clement, and so came to encounter the artisans whom he observed in his work on manufactures. Babbage provided an introduction for Isambard Kingdom Brunel in 1830, for a contact with the proposed Bristol & Birmingham Railway. He carried out studies, around 1838, to show the superiority of the broad gauge for railways, used by Brunel's Great Western Railway.

In 1838, Babbage invented the pilot (also called a cow-catcher), the metal frame attached to the front of locomotives that clears the tracks of obstacles; he also constructed a dynamometer car. His eldest son, Benjamin Herschel Babbage, worked as an engineer for Brunel on the railways before emigrating to Australia in the 1850s.

Babbage also invented an ophthalmoscope, which he gave to Thomas Wharton Jones for testing. Jones, however, ignored it. The device only came into use after being independently invented by Hermann von Helmholtz.

Babbage achieved notable results in cryptography, though this was still not known a century after his death. Letter frequency was category 18 of Babbage's tabulation project. Joseph Henry later defended interest in it, in the absence of the facts, as relevant to the management of movable type.

As early as 1845, Babbage had solved a cipher that had been posed as a challenge by his nephew Henry Hollier, and in the process, he made a discovery about ciphers that were based on Vigenère tables. Specifically, he realised that enciphering plain text with a keyword rendered the cipher text subject to modular arithmetic. During the Crimean War of the 1850s, Babbage broke Vigenère's autokey cipher as well as the much weaker cipher that is called Vigenère cipher today. His discovery was kept a military secret, and was not published. Credit for the result was instead given to Friedrich Kasiski, a Prussian infantry officer, who made the same discovery some years later. However, in 1854, Babbage published the solution of a Vigenère cipher, which had been published previously in the Journal of the Society of Arts. In 1855, Babbage also published a short letter, "Cypher Writing", in the same journal. Nevertheless, his priority was not established until 1985.

Babbage involved himself in well-publicised but unpopular campaigns against public nuisances. He once counted all the broken panes of glass of a factory, publishing in 1857 a "Table of the Relative Frequency of the Causes of Breakage of Plate Glass Windows": Of 464 broken panes, 14 were caused by "drunken men, women or boys".

Babbage's distaste for commoners (the Mob) included writing "Observations of Street Nuisances" in 1864, as well as tallying up 165 "nuisances" over a period of 80 days. He especially hated street music, and in particular the music of organ grinders, against whom he railed in various venues. The following quotation is typical:

Babbage was not alone in his campaign. A convert to the cause was the MP Michael Thomas Bass.

In the 1860s, Babbage also took up the anti-hoop-rolling campaign. He blamed hoop-rolling boys for driving their iron hoops under horses' legs, with the result that the rider is thrown and very often the horse breaks a leg. Babbage achieved a certain notoriety in this matter, being denounced in debate in Commons in 1864 for "commencing a crusade against the popular game of tip-cat and the trundling of hoops."