Charles Babbage

Who was Charles Babbage?

The late Charles Babbage
The late Charles Babbage
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Charles Babbage, the son of Benjamin Jr. and Elizabeth Babbage was born on 26 December, 1791[1]. He was an English mathematician, inventor, mechanical engineer, and philosopher.

His fame came from coming up with the idea of a programmable machine, capable of making mathematical calculations[2]. He is considered by many and referred to as the “father of computing”[1] since the machines he conceptualised and created were essentially the one of the first mechanical computers, and some of the concepts from his machines serves as the basis for most, if not all modern computers[3].

Early Life

Charles Babbage’s father was a wealthy man and it allowed Charles to attend several elite schools for his elementary education. However, around the age of 8, Charles contracted a fever which was diagnosed as life threatening and because of this he was sent to a country school to recover. He later attended King Edward VI Grammar School in Totnes in South Devon, although he had to revert back to private tutors for some time due to his continuing poor health[4].

At some point later, he joined a 30-student academy in Middlesex managed by Stephen Freeman, and it was here where Charles found his love for mathematics as the academy had a large library, enabling Charles to use it to study mathematics on his own. After leaving the academy, he had two more tutors, one of whom was from Oxford and taught Charles about classic mathematics so that he could be accepted into Cambridge[2].

Notable Dates

Year Event
1791 Born
1810 Went to Trinity College, Cambridge
1814 Married Georgina Whitmore
1816 Elected a Fellow of the Royal Society and founded the Astronomical Society
(now Royal Astronomical Society)
1821 Began work on the Difference Engine
1828 Appointed to the Lucasian Chair of Mathematics at Cambridge
1831 Founded the British Association for the Advancement of Science
(now British Science Association)
1832 Portion of Difference Engine completed, work on Difference Engine stopped
1833 Conceived idea and began work on Analytical Engine
1834 Founded the Statistical Society of London
(now The Royal Statistical Society)
1871 Died (aged 79)



  1. (2016). Charles Babbage Institute: Who Was Charles Babbage?. [online] Available at: [Accessed 26 Nov. 2016].
  2. Scientists, T. and Scientists, L. (2016). Charles Babbage - Biography, Facts and Pictures. [online] Available at: [Accessed 26 Nov. 2016].
  3. (2016). The Engines | Babbage Engine | Computer History Museum. [online] Available at: [Accessed 26 Nov. 2016]
  4. (2008). Charles Babbage Biography, Computer models and Inventions. [online] Available at: [Accessed 27 Nov. 2008].