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Reckoning with MatterCalculating Machines, Innovation, and Thinking About Thinking from Pascal to Babbage$
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Matthew L. Jones

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780226411460

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226411637.001.0001

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Babbage Confronts Prior Art

Babbage Confronts Prior Art

Chapter:
(p.157) 1111 Fourth Carry Babbage Confronts Prior Art
Source:
Reckoning with Matter
Author(s):

Matthew L. Jones

Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226411637.003.0009

Charles Babbage’s claims to the novelty of his Difference Engine were suspect from the very start, even to himself. His earliest manuscript “demonstrating” the possibility of the Difference Engine advanced a fairly humble attitude about the possibility of predecessors: “Commencing then with the first action which it will be necessary to execute, either it is one which is known and to be found in books or in machines, or it is novel in its kind; in the first case it is needless in the present instance to choose among the received methods of accomplishing it …; If on the other hand it is new in its kind we must … \contrive/some method of executing it or reserve it after consideration.”...

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