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Another Difference Engine, or Who Was Berry?

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000129972D
Original Publication Date: 1996-Dec-31
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Oct-07
Document File: 1 page(s) / 13K

Publishing Venue

Software Patent Institute

Related People

Coral Burns: AUTHOR [+3]

Abstract

Department of Computer Science University of Calgary Calgary, Alberta, Canada 72N IN4

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THIS DOCUMENT IS AN APPROXIMATE REPRESENTATION OF THE ORIGINAL.

Copyright ©; 1996 by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

Another Difference Engine, or Who Was Berry?

Coral Burns

Natalie Simpson

Department of Computer Science University of Calgary Calgary, Alberta, Canada 72N IN4

As part of a study of Charles Babbage, we were inspecting the mass of Babbage letters housed in the British Library. One of the most interesting puzzles we found concerns a Mr. Berry. Berry was a man who may have created an engine very much like Babbage's difference engine, i.e., it worked on calculating tables based on finite differences. Berry did not write to Babbage himself; instead another man, Thomas Bradley, from the Gallery of Practical Science, wrote to Babbage concerning Berry and his curious machine.

On July 30, 1838, Bradley wrote to Babbage: My Dear Sir:

A person of the name of Berry has made a proposal to the Council of this institution to exhibit here on certain conditions a calculating machine alleged by him to be founded on the same general principles as yours, i.e., on the doctrine of finite differences. I have seen the machine in its unfinished state, [& ] immediately perceived that it must in some measure resemble yours, but it can be made much cheaper. I am directed by this Council to obtain permission from you to see your machine, to ask whether you know any thing of Mr. Berry and his invention, and i...