Why we’re building Charles Babbage’s Victorian computer

But Babbage’s machine has something that no others have: its sheer scale. It is about the size of a small steam locomotive, which means that people will be able to appreciate the architecture and internal workings of a computer by watching it in operation. The analytical engine has a central processor (today’s “chip”) and expandable memory, is programmed with punched cards, and even has a printer. And Babbage hadn’t forgotten the human operator: a bell is included to summon help in case of a problem.

Once complete, the machine should be able to run some of the programs that have been waiting almost two centuries for the computer they were designed for to be finished. Babbage prepared punched cards containing programs (perhaps containing programs worked on with collaborator Ada Lovelace), that have to this day been carefully preserved.

via Why we’re building Charles Babbage’s Victorian computer | John Graham-Cumming | Comment is free | guardian.co.uk.

I wish them luck. I’ve seen the Difference Engine that was built a few years ago, and to see a full-scale working Analytical Engine will be just awesome.

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