Charles Babbage Fact File Biography: Lifespan: 1791 – 1871 *** Full Name: Charles Babbage *** Date of Birth (Birthday): He was born on December 26, 1791 *** Place of Birth: Charles Babbage was born in London, England *** Family background: His father was Benjamin Babbage *** Education: Due to poor health, Charles Babbage mainly received a private education at home *** Charles Babbage died on October 18, 1871 *** Charles Babbage
Charles Babbage Fact 1: Charles Babbage was born on December 26, 1791 in London, England.
Charles Babbage Fact 2: He was a mathematician, mechanical engineer and inventor. Charles Babbage is most famous for initiating the idea of a programmable computer and inventing the world's first mechanical computer.
Charles Babbage Fact 3: His parents were called Benjamin Babbage and Betsy Plumleigh Teape. His father worked in London for Praed's & Co as a banking partner. Charles Babbage had three siblings.
Charles Babbage Fact 4: As a child, Charles Babbage suffered from a severe fever which became life threatening. In an attempt to recuperate, he was sent to a country school in Alphington, Devon from approximately 8 years of age.
Charles Babbage Fact 5: His father could afford him a good education and for a time, he was educated at King Edward VI Grammar School in Totnes. However, he continued to suffer from poor health and as a result, Charles Babbage had to receive private tuition.
Charles Babbage Fact 6: He attended Holmwood Academy which was located on Baker Street in Enfield. Only thirty students were taught at the academy ran by Reverend Stephen Freeman. Whilst studying at the academy, his passion for mathematics grew.
Charles Babbage Fact 7: Charles Babbage continued to receive private tuition after leaving Holmwood Academy. He was taught by a tutor from Oxford who helped Charles Babbage to achieve the grades he required in Classics to gain him acceptance at Cambridge University.
Charles Babbage Fact 8: In October 1810, Charles Babbage joined Trinity College at the University of Cambridge. Mathematics was one of his favorite subjects and he felt that the standard of mathematical tuition available at Trinity College was disappointing.
Charles Babbage Fact 9: In 1812, he formed the Analytical Society with several students including George Peacock and John Herschel. The Analytical Society promoted the use of Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz's notation.
Charles Babbage Fact 10: He transferred to a constituent college of Cambridge University known as Peterhouse. Although he became the top mathematician at Peterhouse, he didn't graduate with honors. In 1814, He achieved a degree without examination.
Charles Babbage Fact 11: He married Georgiana Whitmore in 1814. They were married, without his father's approval, at St. Michael's Church in Teignmouth, Devon. They resided at 5 Devonshire Street, Portland Place, London.
Charles Babbage Fact 12: Charles Babbage and his wife, Georgiana Whitmore, had eight children together. Only three of the children survived childhood. The names of their children were: Benjamin (1815), Charles (1817), Georgiana (1818), Edward (1819), Francis (1821), Dugald (1823), Henry (1824), Alexander (1827), Timothy (1829).
Charles Babbage Fact 13: Charles Babbage was a mathematician who enjoyed precision and accuracy. The human error rate in the calculation of maths tables was very high. Charles Babbage wanted to decrease the error rate by removing the need for human intervention. He planned to develop a mechanical system.
Charles Babbage Fact 14: He initiated an idea that involved a calculating system named the 'difference engine'. The difference engine had the ability to calculate polynomials by using a numerical method known as the differences method.
Charles Babbage Fact 15: On June 14, 1822, Charles Babbage presented his plans to build a 'difference engine' to the Royal Astronomical Society. His plans were approved and the government granted him £1500 to begin his invention. He hired Joseph clement to assist with the construction of the difference engine. Together, they worked on the project for many years.
Charles Babbage Fact 16: Despite additional funding from the government, Charles Babbage and Joseph Clement were unable to complete the plans for the difference engine. Charles Babbage later wrote: 'The drawings and parts of the Engine are at length in a place of safety. I am almost worn out with disgust and annoyance at the whole affair.'.Charles Babbage Fact 18: Using the experience he had gained from his previous engines, he began working on a design for a second difference engine in 1846. The schematic diagrams were kept at London's science museum until 1985-1991 when a full size difference engine was constructed in honor of the 200th anniversary of Charles Babbage’s birth. Construction of the difference engine began, following his original plans and worked perfectly upon completion!
Charles Babbage Fact 17: He designed the first general purpose computer in the world. It consisted of an analytical engine that used punch cards to specify input and the calculations to resolve. He worked hard on his invention and in 1835, he had completed his plans which consisted of a mill measuring 15 feet high and 6 feet wide, and a store measuring 25 feet in length. Despite failing to obtain funding for his idea, Charles Babbage continued to work on the analytical engine and improve its design.
Charles Babbage Fact 19: He was awarded with the Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society in 1824 in recognition of the invention of an engine for calculating mathematical and astronomical tables
Charles Babbage Fact 20: Charles Babbage died at his home at 1 Dorset Street, Marylebone, London on October 18, 1871. A green plaque has since been placed at the address in memory of his life. He was 79 years old when he died. He was buried in Kensal Green Cemetery, London. Half of his brain can be seen on display at London's Science Museum, the other half of his brain is kept at London's Hunterian Museum in the Royal College of Surgeons
Influence and Legacy of Charles Babbage: Charles Babbage was an important British inventor and mathematician. His most notable invention was the world's first mechanical computer known as the 'difference engine'. He was a precise and accurate mathematician who worked hard to eliminate the possibility of human error by developing a mechanical machine.
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