Charles Babbage, AKA the Father of Computing, was born on December 26th, 1791 in London, UK.
Like most inventors, Babbage was inquisitive, and as a child, he would take his toys apart to see how they worked. He was also greatly interested in mathematics and even taught himself algebra!
Babbage attended Trinity College in Cambridge in 1810. Two years later, he moved to Peterhouse College in Cambridge, where he graduated from in 1814. He learned computer science, mathematics, and engineering, and he earned a degree in mathematics and computing.
After completing his education in Cambridge, Babbage became a lecturer of astronomy at the Royal Institution. Around six years later, he founded the Astronomical Society, and in 1824, he won a gold medal for it.
His work in the field of astronomy was remarkable, but his inventions were his biggest contributions to the world. In 1838, Babbage invented the cow-catcher, a machine used to catch obstacles in a train’s path that might prevent the train from being able to move. He also invented the ophthalmoscope, a device that is used by doctors to examine patients’ eyes.
Though his other inventions were phenomenal, Babbage is most famous for designing the first-ever calculating device, called the Analytical Engine. Due to not getting enough funding, Charles Babbage could never construct any of his engines—however, his design was enough to make a basis for future computing engines.
Babbage did make a simpler engine in the 1820s, called the Difference Engine, but the Analytical Engine could perform more efficiently, so it’s more famous.
The Analytical Engine, if constructed, would be able to perform a series of arithmetical operations, helping scientists, engineers, and mathematicians alike. It was the very first design for a calculator, and all our computing devices today are based on it. Think about it: If Charles Babbage hadn’t designed and partially constructed the engine, we wouldn’t have calculators and would have to do all our math on paper!
Charles Babbage worked on this highly beneficial machine until his death in 1871.
So, the next time you use a calculator to solve a problem, thank Charles Babbage!