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A Steampunk Ghost

The Difference Engine No. 2

Charles Babbage, widely regarded as the father of computing, was a typical hacker.

He never completed the first Difference Engine, instead designing a more advanced Difference Engine, and later he produced several incomplete designs for a yet more advanced Analytic Engine.

None of his computing machines were built within his lifetime. But now, more than 150 years after it was designed, the Difference Engine No. 2 has been built, and run through a calculation. It’s on display at the Computer History Museum.

One man’s vision fulfilled after more than a century. I can’t think of anything comparable, except maybe the moment I first saw a Turing Machine implemented in Conway’s Game of Life.

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