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Cover Quote: May 1978


The object of the present volume is to show the degree of assistance which mathematical science is capable of receiving from mechanism.

The calculating part of the engine may be divided into two portions: 1st The Mill in which all operations are performed. 2nd The Store in which all the numbers are originally placed and to which the numbers computed by the engine are returned.

The plate represents a plan of the engine—those circles placed round the great central wheel constitute the Mill whilst that portion which adjoins the longitudinal part or rack represents the Store.

The consequences…are important, and deserve the attention of those who are engaged in extending the domain of analysis, as well as of those who look forward to the effects which are likely to be produced by the complete control which mechanism now gives us over number.

Whenever engines of this kind exist in the capitals and univérsities of the world, it is obvious that all those enquirers who wish to put their theories to the test of number, will apply their efforts so to shape the analytical results at which they have arrived, that they shall be susceptible of calculation by machinery in the shortest possible time, and the whole course of their analysis will be directed towards this object. Those who neglect the indication will find few who will avail themselves of formulae whose computation requires the expense and the error attendent of human aid.

- Charles Babbage
On the Mathematical Powers of the Calculating Engine, 1837
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