Babbage's Analytical Engine IN Astronomische Nachrichten Numbers 290 and 291. Charles Babbage.
Babbage's Analytical Engine IN Astronomische Nachrichten Numbers 290 and 291
Babbage's Analytical Engine IN Astronomische Nachrichten Numbers 290 and 291
1st Babbage attribution of Analytical Engine funding grievances

Babbage's Analytical Engine IN Astronomische Nachrichten Numbers 290 and 291

[ Altona ]: [ gedruckt in der Hammerich und Lesser schen Buchdruckerei ] [ 1843 ]. First Thus. Two issues of Astronomische Nachrichten. Nr. 490, columns 145-160, and Nr. 419, columns 161-176. Two columns per page, each issue a single sheet folded twice (4to). 9 x 11 inches. Uncut and unopened. Self wrappers. While most of the journal articles are in German, this article is in English. Fine. Wraps. [27541]


The first published account of Charles Babbage's 1840 Torino, Italy presentation about his Analytical Engine, the first account of its logical design, and the first publication of what we call computer programs was published in 1842 by Luigi Menabrea from his original 1840 meeting notes. The following year (1843) it was translated into English by Augusta Ada King, Countess of Lovelace, and published in a collaboration with Babbage, who suggested Lady Lovelace add seven explanatory notes to her translation - which notes ran longer than the original article. That translation and notes have been termed "the most important paper in the history of digital computing before modern times" (Bromley in his introduction to Babbage's Calculating Engines, p xv, Tomash:1982).

While Babbage's work was important enough that he was able to get governmental funding in 1823 to attempt the creation of his earlier Difference Engine design, work was shut down in 1833 due to workmanship problems. Continuing his theoretical work, the Analytical Engine evolved, but Babbage was unable to get continued funding for the Difference Engine (or more accurately to continue funding design modifications based on his new work on the Analytical Engine). Now that much of the design was published, he appealed to the government to make a decision after 10 years of back and forth. Denied in Nov. 1842 on the grounds of expense, he authored an 'Addition' to the Lovelace translation expressing his grievances at the lack of governmental support, but had to publish it separately when Ada Lovelace refused adding it to her work. Babbage's grievances were anonymously published in 1843 in the London, Edinburgh, and Dublin Philosophical Magazine and Journal of Science.

We offer here the first publication of this 'Addition' attributed to Babbage in print. "This 'Addition' was first attributed to Babbage by the editors of the German periodical Astronomische Nachrichten, which reprinted it in 1844. The German editors did so on the authority of David Brewster, one of the editors of the Philosophical Magazine." (Origins of Cyberspace, #62)

Titled "Babbage's Analytical Engine" it appeared in two separate issues of the Nachrichten[ Nr. 490 (October 26th, 1843), and Nr. 491 (December 7, 1843)]. Note that Origins of Cyberspace #62 notes this appeared in 1844 rather than 1843.

See Origins of Cyberspace (Norman/Hook: 2002) items #60, #61, #62 on which much of this description is based.

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