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Why is Charles Babbage famous?

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Quick Answer

Charles Babbage was an English engineer, inventor and mathematician who invented the first automatic digital computer. Scholars consider Babbage to be one of the "fathers of the computer." He is most famous for his series of machines known as analytical engines, complex apparatuses designed to perform general computation.

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Despite the fact that many of his inventions went unfinished (usually due to lack of funding or personality issues), Babbage's concepts and creations laid the foundation for the invention of the modern computer.

The most pioneering of Babbage's machines was the Analytical Engine. The purpose of this device was to perform any arithmetical operation. It utilized instructions from punch cards, branching and looping, sequential control and a memory unit in which it stored numbers. Babbage built many models of the Analytical Engine, but unfortunately he never completed the machine to his specifications.

The precursor to the Analytical Engine, the Difference Engine, was also a highly influential invention. The Difference Engine was meant to compute the values of polynomial functions by using the method of finite differences. Babbage envisioned his machine as a solution to the fallibility of nautical calculation and transcription. The Difference Engine also remained unfinished until British scientists completed the machine to Babbage's specifications in 1991.

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