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Topic: quotation
Replies: 21   Last Post: Aug 27, 1996 12:42 PM

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Dave Seaman

Posts: 2,446
Registered: 12/6/04
Re: quotation
Posted: Aug 15, 1996 11:12 AM
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In article <4uts20$>,
John Chandler <> wrote:
>In article <4ut2sf$>,
>Dave Seaman <> wrote:

>>I think it was Charles Babbage. I don't recognize the entire quote,
> ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
>>but the last sentence of your quotation is quite familiar. Neither
>>Leibniz nor Gauss was proposing the use of a machine to replace human
>>labo[u]r in the calculation of mathematical tables. Babbage was, by
>>means of his Difference Engine. The mention of astronomers rings true,
>>because Babbage's request for government funds to continue his project
>>was denied by the Astronomer Royal.


>Did not Herschel exclaim to Babbage and another student,
>"Would to God these calculations could be done by steam!"?

>Supposedly it was this remark that started Babbage on his
>career designing computing machines. During that career he must
>have made similar remarks many times.

Actually, Babbage made the remark to Herschel, and Herschel agreed that
it was possible. I found this in the introduction to _Charles Babbage
and his Calculating Engines_ (Edited and with introduction by Philip
Morrison and Emily Morrison). I have a Dover edition that was
published in 1961.

Babbage's own description of the event appears in Chapter V, but he
does not identify the "friend" to whom he made the remark. The
Morrisons claim it was Herschel.

>Now don't ask if it was Herschel The Elder or
>Herschel The Younger... (both were astronomers and one or both
>were Astronomers Royal, were they not?).
>(Pardon the vagueness; my encyclopedia is at home.)

Babbage's friend was Herschel the Younger. The Astronomer Royal who
recommended no further expenditure of government funds on Babbage's
calculating engines was Sir Gearge Airy.

So far I have not been able to locate the precise quote that started
this thread, and I am not entirely confident that it was Babbage.

Dave Seaman
++++ stop the execution of Mumia Abu-Jamal ++++
++++ if you agree copy these lines to your sig ++++
++++ see ++++

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