Charles Babbage

The first mechanical computer was invented by Charles Babbage, an English mathematician. Babbage understood the need of a device that could compute long and difficult calculations in order to automatically produce accurate mathematical tables like logarithm tables or astronomical tables. Errors in logarithm tables could often prove fatal for sailors at sea since the tables were used for navigation. Because Babbage’s invention was solving such important problems the British Government accepted to fund his project.

In 1822, he displayed a small part of the Difference Engine, the first completed automatic calculator design. It was built completely of mechanical parts by the master machinist Joseph Clement. The decimal system was used to represent the numbers and each digit was shown by the position of a toothed wheel [2]. The device was able to solve complex problems by performing numerous calculations and had its own storage where it could save data temporarily [3]. Though, due to an argument between Babbage and Clement in 1932, the machine was never fully developed.