Many people look to Steve Jobs in thanks for the personal computers that they’re using to read content like this, but the person who you should really be thanking is a man named Charles Babbage. Born in 1791, Babbage was the first man to come up with the idea of creating a device that was programmable. Here are some interesting facts about the man who laid the cornerstone for modern computing.
1. He Was a Polymath
Being a polymath means that you’re well-versed in multiple fields of mathematics. For Babbage, it meant that he was a mechanical engineer and inventor in addition to being a mathematician. He would also dabble from time to time in philosophy. If he wasn’t busy trying to invent something, then he was working on proving a theory in some way.
2. It Almost Never Happened
Babbage was struck with a “fever” as a child. This basically meant that he was quite ill and no one really knew why. His health was so fragile at times, in fact, that he couldn’t even attend school and had to rely on tutors. This would continue on and off again for 8 years until he reached his late teens and would begin to study classic math at Cambridge.
3. What Funding Could Have Done
Babbage became famous for his machines. It also brought him a reasonable amount of wealth, but nothing that could help him advance his dream of creating programmable machines. Instead his designs were used to help create steam-powered equipment in a variety of sectors. If the government treasury had continued to have faith in his work, the home computer could have become a reality much sooner than it did.
4. Preserved For Viewing
Babbage was known for having a great mind, so maybe it’s fitting that you can actually go see his brain. Half of his mind is preserved at the London Science Museum and the other half can be viewed at the Royal College of Surgeons in their Hunterian Museum.
Charles Babbage had a vision for computing that was never 100% fulfilled in his lifetime. When you turn on your computer for any reason, think of this man and his vision. Men like Steve Jobs may have defined the personal PC industry, but Charles Babbage is the man who created it in the first place.