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Events and Sightings
October-December 2004 (vol. 26 no. 4)
pp. 62-70
Appreciating Charles Babbage: Emails between Allan Bromley and Maurice

1. The above paragraph is clearly written from memory, and is not a fair criticism of what Swade actually said in The Cogwheel Brain. Bromley had in fact spotted the problem and mentioned it among others of varying seriousness in papers he had left behind. However, whereas most of the problems could be dealt with without too much trouble, this one assumed major importance. This was partly because it was by no means clear from Bromley's notes how a solution was to be arrived at and partly because it raised a curatorial problem— namely, how far it was possible to modify Babbage's drawings and still claim that the result was his machine. On being appealed to, Bromley gave advice that much clarified the situation and eventually Swade was able to resolve the problem to the satisfaction of all concerned. The incident serves to add emphasis to Bromley's remark about his own remoteness from the place where decisions were taken. (MVW)
2. Charles Babbage's son.
3. These numbers refer to Babbage plans held by the Science Museum, London.
4. Sidney, Australia.
5. Joseph Clement, Babbage's machinist, and Joseph Whitworth, a well known 19th century machinist.
6. Bromley, "Babbage's Analytical Engine Plans 28 and 28a— The Programmer's Interface," IEEE Annals of the History of Computing, vol. 22, no. 4, 2000, p.6.
7. Luis Menebrea.
8. A common method of checking calculations by taking the differences of adjacent entries in a table.
9. The EDSAC was, of course, designed and built by Maurice Wilkes.
10. British Computer Society.
11. George Airy, English Astronomer Royal during Charles Babbage's lifetime.
12. A difference engineer built by George and Edward Scheutz.
13. Prof. Wilkes is correct in spirit, but not in letter. Airy certainly knew the details of astronomical calculations. By his time, however, the Nautical Almanac had been removed from Greenwich and the authority of the Astronomer Royal.
14. John Herschel, a university friend of Babbage and son of William Herschel, discoverer of Uranus.
15. L.J. Comrie, head of the Royal Nautical Almanac Office from 1925 to 1935.
16. See Bromley, Allan, "Charles Babbage's Analytical Engine of 1938," IEEE Annals of the History of Computing, vol. 20, no. 4, 1998, p. 29-45.
1. D. Swade, The Cogwheel Brain: Charles Babbage and the Quest to Build the First Computer, Little, Brown and Co., New York, 2000.

Citation:
David Alan Grier, "Events and Sightings," IEEE Annals of the History of Computing, vol. 26, no. 4, pp. 62-70, Oct.-Dec. 2004, doi:10.1109/MAHC.2004.29
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