Punched cards for Babbage's Analytical Engine, 1834-1871.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
This was the first fully-automatic calculating machine. British computing pioneer Charles Babbage (1791-1871) first conceived the idea of an advanced calculating machine to calculate and print mathematical tables in 1812. This machine, conceived by Babbage in 1834, was designed to evaluate any mathematical formula and to have even higher powers of analysis than his original Difference Engine of the 1820s. Only part of the machine was completed before his death in 1871. Babbage was also a reformer, mathematician, philosopher, inventor and political economist.