"…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.