Campaign Pledges to Finish 19th Century Steampunk Computer

Campaign Pledges to Finish 19th Century Steampunk Computer

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The analytical engine that started construction in the early 1800s but was never finished may finally be completed someday.

One of the world's first programmable computers was conceived by Charles Babbage all the way back in the 1830s with his "analytical engine," which is not unlike something you'd see in the world of steampunk. In fact, it was even powered by steam. Unfortunately, the machine was never finished, but a modern-day computer programmer wants to change that.

Babbage worked on the analytical engine for decades until he died in 1871, but denied government funding for the expensive device ended the possibility of it ever being finished. For its time, the analytical engine was an advanced idea that potentially would have been able to solve complex equations long before computers of the early to mid 1900s.

John Graham-Cumming of the UK hopes to succeed where Babbage's government failed him by raising the funds to build an entire analytical engine as originally envisioned. Graham-Cumming is trying to acquire £500,000 ($800,000) to build what he calls "an inspirational piece of equipment."

"What you realise when you read Babbage's papers is that this was the first real computer," Graham-Cumming told the Telegraph. "It had expandable memory, a CPU, microcode, a printer, a plotter and was programmable with punch cards."

Pieces of the analytical engine have been assembled in the past, but a complete, working model hasn't ever been put together. To complete the task would require the deciphering of Babbage's original designs, in addition to the large number of parts needed.

Graham-Cumming has promised to set up a non-profit organization dedicated to building the analytical engine if he raises the necessary funds. Once completed, the machine will be donated to a museum. If you'd like to help, Graham-Cumming has set up a donation page here. It seems like he's got a long way to go, but it'd be really cool if he could pull this off.

Source: Telegraph, via Blastr

Permalink

It must be finished!

For science!

Where would we be right now if this would've been completed in the 1800s?

How? HOW?

How the hell did some one almost make a computer in the 1800's?

Please for the love of god, some one explain.

The Lost Big Boss:
How? HOW?

How the hell did some one almost make a computer in the 1800's?

Please for the love of god, some one explain.

It's complicated, like really complicated. Read this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Analytical_engine

RUINER ACTUAL:
Where would we be right now if this would've been completed in the 1800s?

TV in 1870, Internet 1910, then Flame War I and Flame War II and around 1950 we'd already have gotten working DeLoreans.

Well, damn...

I wonder what would happen if you tried to play Crysis on it...

If this had actually been invented at the time, we MIGHT have been able to play Crysis at 60 fps right now, just maybe.

If it could play Banana Phone I will donate as much money as I can.

I'll be donating to this, because DAMN, I want to be able to see this machine working in my lifetime.

So is this anything like the difference engine?

That was based on Babbages design.

The Lost Big Boss:
How? HOW?

How the hell did some one almost make a computer in the 1800's?

Please for the love of god, some one explain.

They had a steammachine in old Agypt of that no one thougth it could be usefull besides some jingamjing in a temple to impress the believers.

I remember watching Jeremy Clarkson talking about it. If they did adopt this, then he sadi World War 1 would've been done in a fortnight. Of course, this was Jeremy Clarkson, so we can presume a little longer than that.

Calumon: So... Jack's kettle can do numbers? :S

GamesB2:
So is this anything like the difference engine?

That was based on Babbages design.

It's the sequel to Babbage's design, also designed by him.

Difference Engine = Calculator
Analytical Engine = Computer

If the British Academy of Science had not gotten the govt. to drop funding, this could have completely changed the world. And that has been the subject of several Steampunk novels, I might add.

RUINER ACTUAL:
Where would we be right now if this would've been completed in the 1800s?

Can I say Terminator?
OT: I might donate, though I'm curious, would it's operating system be Ye Olde Windowe?

Yay for unnecessity?
..
This is cool and all... But... I still find it a bit unnecessary. Unless there is a question whether the computer would work and this will be the test, which would make sense.
But I never like these kind of homage things.

The Lost Big Boss:
How? HOW?

How the hell did some one almost make a computer in the 1800's?

Please for the love of god, some one explain.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antikythera_mechanism

significantly earlier and less complex

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Analog_computer

This would be pretty damn cool to see working.

If this had been finished...

I ain't donating, I would if i could. I really want to see this thing working.

Must not make cumming joke...must not make cumming joke!

That's coincidental (not ironic), because I'm reading the Difference Engine right now, which is an alternate history steampunk novel where this was completed back in the 1850s.

Why did we drop the name analytical engine for computers? That's an awesome name, for example, those of us who've played Dawn of War 2/Chaos Rising will have heard computers referred to as "Logic Engines", and frankly I think that's a much better name for the damn things.

Secret world leader (shhh):
If this had been finished...

I ain't donating, I would if i could. I really want to see this thing working.

Must not make cumming joke...must not make cumming joke!

*someone makes a cumming joke*
I guess I saw that cumming
*takes on sunglasses*
YEEEEEEEAAAH

OT: This looks great, just imagine what the world would have been like if we had this in the early 1900s? Flying iPads and shit :D

lol its probably better then the compute i'm on now.

I wonder if it would have made any difference really. Maybe it would have ruined computing as we know it by making it seem that base 10 was the best choice for computing machines. Oh well, best not to dwell on it.

Cumming? He must 'o been bullied at school.
OT: Cool, wait... If this had been finished then... Dammit the empire could still be here!!!

That's pretty cool, but also... 800K? why would they need 800k to make a really low-tech computer... I mean, I get that they would need a lot of custom parts, but it still seems really high.

So, how large would this thing have to be, physically speaking?

Nincompoop:
Yay for unnecessity?
..
This is cool and all... But... I still find it a bit unnecessary. Unless there is a question whether the computer would work and this will be the test, which would make sense.
But I never like these kind of homage things.

I agree. While this is cool, there are better places 800k could be going.

I wonder what the world today would be like if he had been given government funding? Perhaps the 'net would have been invented in the '50s.

It's one of those interesting things that pop into your head, like if Lawrence Hargrave had gotten more support, would Australia not America been the leader in early aviation?

Dozens of little things that might have happened, It's the reason I love alternate history

Quaxar:

RUINER ACTUAL:
Where would we be right now if this would've been completed in the 1800s?

TV in 1870, Internet 1910, then Flame War I and Flame War II and around 1950 we'd already have gotten working DeLoreans.

Well, damn...

That's it, I now have a reason to rebuild my time machine. To get those bastards to finish the steampunk computer.

Okay, being a Steampunk junkie, I must say that this looks mint!
Though what would the world be like now IF it had been made during the 1800s? Would we be living in a steampunk land with blimp like flying machines and such...that would have been awesome.

dammit, why didn't i think of this before now?!

can't believe I'm not late for this joke....

Ejem... "Wonder If I'll be able to play games on Steam with it"

The Lost Big Boss:
How? HOW?

How the hell did some one almost make a computer in the 1800's?

Please for the love of god, some one explain.

He was ahead of his time. Way ahead.

Meanwhile China just constructed the world's most powerful supercomputer, Japan is building lifelike robots India is starting a space program, Pennsylvania has built robots running on mice brains, and California is developing fusion power.

Always thinking ahead UK!

 

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