Charles Babbage in 1847
Famous Devonians: Computer pioneer Charles Babbage came from an old Totnes family.
Computer pioneer Charles Babbage (1791-1871) came from an old Devon family - his grandfather, Benjamin Babbage, was the Mayor of Totnes in 1754.
So, although Charles was born in London, he's regarded as a Devonian.
He was a remarkable man. Mad about mathematics, he set about inventing machines which would help businesses and corporations during the industrial revolution.
Unlike some other leading thinkers of the 19th century, Babbage saw factories and industry - rather than agriculture - as the key to Britain's future economy.
Babbage's Difference Engine No1
He's best known for pioneering computing and calculating machines.
He drew up plans for calculating engines, which incorporated many of the elements which were to later appear in modern computers.
His engines were never actually made during his lifetime.
But in recent years, researchers - using the plans - have built some of the machines and found that they work.
Babbage regarded the railways as vital, and worked with Great Western Railway on the best guage for railway tracks.
He also invented the speedometer, and the opthalmascope, used to examine the inside of the human eye.
If anything, Babbage was ahead of his time. His theories and ideas came too soon to be implemented in practice.
But he was one of the innovative pioneers at the very forefront of the computer age, and is fully deserving of the tag 'father of the computer.'
last updated: 20/02/2008 at 12:43