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The Scientific Library of Charles Babbage

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000129371D
Original Publication Date: 1981-Jul-01
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Oct-05
Document File: 9 page(s) / 38K

Publishing Venue

Software Patent Institute

Related People

M. R. WILLIAMS: AUTHOR [+2]

Abstract

In the early nineteenth century, Charles Babbage compiled a large scientific library that included many rare works. This paper describes the history, contents, and present location of the library. The contents are classified under twenty-one headings. Keywords: collection, Babbage CR Category: 1.2

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THIS DOCUMENT IS AN APPROXIMATE REPRESENTATION OF THE ORIGINAL.

Copyright ©; 1981 by the American Federation of Information Processing Societies, Inc. Used with permission.

The Scientific Library of Charles Babbage

M. R. WILLIAMS

(Image Omitted: © 1981 by the American Federation of Information Processing Societies, Inc. Permission to copy without fee all or part of this material is granted provided that the copies are not made or distributed for direct commercial advantage, the AFTPS copyright notice and the title of the publication and its date appear, and notice is given that copying is by permission of the American Federation of Information Processing Societies, Inc. To copy otherwise, or to republish, requires specific permission. Author's Address: Department of Computer Science, The University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta T2N 1N4, Canada. © 1981 AFIPS 0164-

1239/81/0302-5-240

The Scientific Library of Charles Babbage

M. R. WILLIAMS .00/00)

In the early nineteenth century, Charles Babbage compiled a large scientific library that included many rare works. This paper describes the history, contents, and present location of the library. The contents are classified under twenty-one headings. Keywords: collection, Babbage CR Category: 1.2

Charles Babbage is well known as the man who attempted to construct the automatic calculating machine he called a Difference Engine and, later, a better machine he called an Analytical Engine. He is not, however, well known for some of the other facets of his very wide- ranging interests. As Anthony Hyman has pointed out (1976), he was

(Image Omitted: a man of great personal charm, he led a varied, manysided and sociable existence. Indeed, it is misleading to think of Babbage as a scientist as the term is now understood. Perhaps it is more illuminating to think of him as a liberal reformer ... whose interests were mathematical and scientific.)

One possible source of information regarding people's interests is the contents of their private libraries. The author had the great fortune of accidentally discovering the present location of Babbage's private mathematical and scientific library, and the further joy of spending six weeks in 1977 examining the contents as thoroughly as possible.

The Crawford Collection

Babbage's library was kept intact and is now part of a larger collection, called the Crawford Collection, in the library of the Royal Observatory in Edinburgh.

This collection was put together by James Ludovic Lindsay (1847-1913) the 26th Earl of Crawford and the 9th Earl of Balcarres. The story of how this came about is of interest in itself.

Several members of the extended Lindsay family have been active in British scientific circles, one of them being a founding member of the Royal Society and reputed to have had the finest

IEEE Computer Society, Jul 01, 1981 Page 1 IEEE Annals of the History of Computing Volume 3 Number 3, Pages 235-240

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The Scientific Library of Charles Babbage...