Tagcomputer science

Researchers Trying to Build a Functioning Babbage’s Analytical Engine

 A photo of the Difference Engine constructed by the Science Museum based on the plans for Charles Babbage's Difference Engine No. 2

A photo of the Difference Engine constructed by the Science Museum based on the plans for Charles Babbage’s Difference Engine No. 2 by geni

Forget big data:

The project follows the successful effort by a group at the museum to replicate a far less complicated Babbage invention: the Difference Engine No. 2, a calculating machine composed of roughly 8,000 mechanical components assembled with a watchmaker’s precision. That project was completed in 1991.

The new effort — led by John Graham-Cumming, a programmer, and Doron Swade, a former curator at the museum — has already digitized Babbage’s surviving blueprints for the Analytical Engine. But the challenges of building it are daunting.

In the case of the Difference Engine, a complete set of plans existed. The Analytical Engine, by contrast, was a work in progress, as Babbage continually refined his thinking in a series of blueprints. Thus, the hope is to “crowd-source” the analysis of what should be built; plans will be posted online next year, and the public will be invited to offer suggestions.

New York Times: It Started Digital Wheels Turning

Trent Reznor: A Geek Before Geeks Were Cool

Salon chats with Nine Inch Nails’ Trent Reznor about technology. I think Reznor was more important in making technology “cool” than most people give him credit for.

Reznor got himself an Atari 2600 home gaming console and spent long afternoons at the house of a friend who had a coveted color RadioShack computer. Soon enough, he had his very own Commodore 64 and began teaching himself to program. He went on to study computer science at Allegheny College and worked briefly as an engineer until he decided the time was right to pursue his dreams. “When you could use computers to make music,” he says, “I wanted to be right in there.”

Salon: Trent Reznor’s Pretty Hate Machines

See Also:

This clip of Reznor talking about electronics in music from before Nine Inch Nails:

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