Babbage’s Difference Engine at the Science Museum

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Science Museum, Babbage, Babbage's Difference Engine, days out, ways out with children, London
Babbage’s DIfference Engine on display at the Science Museum in London. A forerunner of the modern computer.

With Helen going back to school this week, I haven’t had much time to take photographs recently. Having studied my memory cards and the images on my phone, I think this picture, taken at the Science Museum in London, is the best I have.

It’s an image of Babbage’s Difference Engine. Essentially, this is a programmable, mechanical computer built in 1832. Think of that next time you’re tweeting someone from your iPad!

Having received funding from the British Government of the time, mathematician Charles Babbage developed the machine. Despite the intricate design, it was never fully finished. The reasons why it was never completed are disputed but it seems Babbage was something of a difficult individual to get along with and he tried the patience of his backers a little too much.

I found the machine fascinating. My two children, however, were much more interested in the nearby steam trains and cars.

I took them to both the Science and Natural History Museums in London on the penultimate day of the summer holidays. I wasn’t sure what to expect; long queues and madness or no queues and relative calm.

Thankfully the latter came to pass. We had a marvellous time and it was wonderful to watch Toddler Adams darting between the different exhibits with her older sister. Instead of being pushed around in a buggy, Toddler Adams has now reached an age where she can appreciate such things.

I’m linking this to the #MySundayPhoto linky hosted by the OneDad3Girls blog. Do pay the linky a visit if you want to check out photography from other bloggers.


18 thoughts on “Babbage’s Difference Engine at the Science Museum”

    1. Very intriguing indeed. I’d have liked more time to see the computing bits and bobs on display but the kids would have had none of it.

    1. I clearly remember taking Helen, our eldest, for the first time. I wasn’t sure how it was going to go as she was about the same age as Toddler Adams is now. After waiting in a massive queue she flitted from packed display case to packed display case for ages. The museums are such valuable resources.

  1. This is amazing, I find the Science Museum so interesting. I might have to take the girls soon.

    Thank you for linking up

    1. I love taking the kids. I’m not sure how much they learn, but it just fires up their imagination and gets them interested in learning. It’s inspiring and that’s the important thing.

  2. I work in IT and love love love the IT history bit of any museum. The science museum in London is one of my favourites!

    1. I’ve been talking to my eldest a lot about computers recently and when how I was younger we didn’t have one. I then asked her to guess how many computers were in our living room. Including satellite TV receive and iPhone we counted five! Just a different world to her generation.

  3. Definitely an interesting one. N was the same – he only really liked the big machines (and the space stuff) when we went. Lucky you had a quiet day there/

    1. I’m sure as he gets older N will get interested in the computer stuff. As it happens, Toddler Adams was mostly interested in the space exploration section. You just never can tell!

  4. How luck to have got to the museums with relatively few queues – it’s never happened to us at the science museum but it doesn’t seem to matter because there’s so much to enjoy there. Isn’t it an amazing machine?!

    1. It is an amazing machine. It was the one and only time during the day that I had to tell the kids to calm and wait because I wanted to read all about it! It was gamble regarding the queues. I thought it would either be insanely busy with people going for a last fling before the end of the holidays or very quiet. It paid off with relative calm!

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