Christie's auction and other computer history events

From: Eric Smith <>
Date: Thu Feb 17 14:55:59 2005

> That's interesting; is it documented anywhere?

Several of the developers of early computers said in interviews in the
1970s and later that they had been unaware of Babbage's work. I don't
have references handy. I think this may have been mentioned in Ceruzzi's
"A History of Modern Computing", but without looking it up I can't be

Babbage's machines were nearly an evolutionary dead end. A few related
machines were made in the nineteenth century, and vaguely similar
mechanisms were used in some mechanical calculators in the twentieth
century, but the concepts generally were not used by the early computers.

For instance, the analytical engine would have been the first stored-
program computer, but the concept was independently reinvented in
the twentieth century and described by von Neuman. It has come to
be known as "von Neuman architecture", though there is some
controversy regarding how much of it was really invented by him.
Had the people involved been aware of Babbage's work, it would have
been known as "Babbage architecture" instead.

Also Ada Byron Lovelace is now credited with inventing the subroutine,
for use with the analytical engine, but it was independently reinvented
in the twentieth century by several people unfamilar with her work.

Received on Thu Feb 17 2005 - 14:55:59 GMT

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