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Mudassir Ali

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The first computer, although it was not known under this name, is this strange-looking device:

The Babbage Difference Engine was created by Charles Babbage (1791-1871), computer pioneer, who designed the first automatic computing engines. He invented computers but failed to build them. The first complete Babbage Engine was completed in London in 2002, 153 years after it was designed. Difference Engine No. 2, built faithfully to the original drawings, consists of 8,000 parts, weighs five tons, and measures 11 feet long. It is located in the Computer History Museum in San Jose, CA.

Babbage designed two classes of engine, Difference Engines, and Analytical Engines. Difference engines use the mathematical method of finite differences. It uses only arithmetical addition and removes the need for multiplication and division which are more difficult to implement mechanically.

Difference engines are strictly calculators. They cannot be used for general arithmetical calculation. The Analytical Engine is much more than a calculator and marks the progression from the mechanized arithmetic of calculation to fully-fledged general-purpose computation.