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Babbage and Bowditch: A Transatlantic Connection
July-December 1987 (vol. 9 no. 3)
pp. 283-290

This article reproduces and discusses the significance of a lengthy letter written by Charles Babbage to an unknown recipient on 2 August 1835. The latter not only gives an early description of the Analytical Engine but also provides some insight into Babbage's frame of mind at the time. Evidence is presented to indicate that the recipient was Nathaniel Bowditch, a prominent American scientist. In addition, some insight into Babbage's personal life and his connection with the American scientific community.

1. Bowditch, Nathaniel I. 1896.The American Practical Navigator, Washington D.C., Government Printing Office. Many editions, including modern ones, are available from a range of publishers.
2. Bowditch, Nathaniel I. 1829, 1832, 1834, 1839.Mécanique Céleste, Volumes I-IV. An English translation of a French work, of the same title, by Laplace, privately printed.
3. Bowditch, Nathaniel I. 1890.Memoir of Nathaniel Bowditch, Boston, C. Little and J. Brown. Originally published in 1840 as a prefix to theMécanique Céleste, volume IV.
4. Bowditch, Vincent Y. 1902.Life and Correspondence of Henry Ingersoll Bowditch, New York, Houghton, Mifflin and Co., 2 Volumes.
5. Hyman, A. 1984.Charles Babbage: Pioneer of the Computer. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
6. Sumner, Charles. 1838. Private letter to Henry Bowditch, reprinted in V. Y. Bowditch, 1902,Life and Correspondence of Henry Ingersoll Bowditch, Volume 1, p. 110.
7. van Sinderen, Alfred W. 1983. Babbage's Letter to Quetelet, May 1835,Annals of the History of Computing, Vol. 5, Number 3, pp. 263-267.
8. M. Williams,A History of Computing Technology, Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliffs, N.J., 1985.

Michael R. Williams, "Babbage and Bowditch: A Transatlantic Connection," IEEE Annals of the History of Computing, vol. 9, no. 3, pp. 283-290, July-Dec. 1987, doi:10.1109/MAHC.1987.10024
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