Plan and side elevation of Babbage's Difference Engine No 1, 1830.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
The physical engine would have measured eight feet (2.43m) high, seven feet (2.13m) wide and three feet (0.91m) deep. The drawing shows a version that calculates with 16 digits and 7 orders of difference. Charles Babbage (1791-1871) was an English mathematician, scientist, philosopher and political economist as well as a pioneer of computing and an inventor. His Difference Engine was intended for the calculation of tables of logarithms and similar functions by repeated addition performed by trains of gear wheels.