"…I was sitting in the rooms of the Analytical Society, at Cambridge, my head leaning forward on the table in a kind of dreamy mood, with a table of logarithms lying before me. Another member, coming into the room and seeing me half asleep called out, "Well, Babbage, what are you dreaming about?" to which I replied, "I am thinking that all these tables (pointing to the logarithms) might be calculated by machinery" 
 -- Charles Babbage  (Passages from the Life of a Philosopher)

Babbage’s “dream” became his obsession. In 1822, Babbage presented to the Analytical Society a small model for his Difference Engine, a machine capable of calculating mathematical tables, such as a table of logarithms,   In his paper, Babbage demonstrated exactly how his machine could calculate the  terms of a particular polynomial at the rate of about one term every five seconds.  Impressed with his prototype, the British government awarded him a number of grants over the next few years.  Unfortunately,  The Difference Engine proved too difficult and too costly to build and  Babbage’s dream never achieved completion.

Despite his earlier disappointment,  in 1835,  Babbage created plans for a much more ambitious machine, The Analytical Engine.  This machine had many of the components of a modern computer: a control unit (punched card control), memory (the store), a processor (the mill), an input device (cardreader), and an output device (a printer). Although The Analytical Engine was never built, Charles Babbage's design was a precursor for a modern computer.