Monday, July 17, 2006

A computer scientist

An English mathematician ,mechanical engineer and computer scientist who designed the first true digital computer. He spent most of his life building his mechanical computer. He built his computer to overcome the problems of high human calculations and slow rate.

How can a mechanical computer be a digital one? You may think that wheels and gears can represent and manage digits.

This machine -Difference engine- has a fantastic architecture that is similar to modern computers. Data and program memories were separated. And operations were instruction based. It had a control unit and can make conditional jumps. It has time signals and separate I/O unit.

He also designed a printer with variable column and row length and programmable output formatting.

After that he designed a more complex machine -Analytical engine- that can be programed by punched cards. This machine was also intended to have several operations such as branching, and looping.

A young lady Ada Lovelance the daughter of the famed British poet Lord Byron was hired to write software for this computer. She was of few people who knew lot about the Analytical engine. Ada is regarded as the world's first programmer. The programming language Ada® in 1979 is named after her.

This scientist is Charles Babbage 1791 - 1871 who a crater on moon -Babbage crater- and Charles Babbage Institute in United State were named after him. The science fiction novel The Difference Engine refers to him. He was elected as the fellow of royal society at 1816.

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