Last night was the first in the season of talks on Charles Babbage. My deep thanks to all
the members of the Crashbox and Classic Car Club who turned out to listen to my presentation about the brilliant, enigmatic and inventive Charles Babbage. Thanks you for welcoming me so warmly and responding with such interest to the subject – without doubt Babbage changed the world he lived in and so much of what he achieved has been our fortunate legacy.
As you may already know Babbage (together with the astounding Ada Byron) conceived the idea of a machine that was the forerunner of the modern computer – but what fewer people know is the extent of his inventiveness and learning. He was a complex man, and profoundly knowledgeable on so many subjects – mineralogy, engineering, mathematics, philosophy, railways – he even devised a ballet to test his stage lighting (with Michael Faraday)!
My audience on Monday evening may have been just a little surprised to learn of his vodka drinking episode at school, or that he carved his name on the school desks wherever he went, or that he shot and ate a seagull, or that – had he not been vigilant – might have killed himself and Brunel in a railway collision! How different might our lives have been had he not acted to avert that particular disaster!
There is so much more to learn about this complicated all-round genius and you can read about it in my book – Charles Babbage from the beginning available from Amazon and other suppliers in paperback or in digital format.