Ada Lovelace Day 2011
Today is Ada Lovelace day. If you didn’t know what it is, it’s a day when tech enthusiasts around the world are encouraged to blog about women in the tech industry. I haven’t prepared myself enough to pick out one woman in particular, so I’m just going to talk in general about things related to Babbage that you might not know about.
Plan 28 is the name given to a new project which will see (if it is successful) the creation of the previously theoretical computer known as the Analytical Engine. The Analytical Engine exists in its current state as a collection of proofs of concept but never really anything that works together, simply because the tools and raw materials that Babbage needed were not available.
Throughout his life, Babbage invented various different devices, but the most significant were the Difference Engine (a calculator) and the Analytical Engine (a computer). Neither of which he was able to complete in his lifetime. The Difference Engine (the earlier device, that he mostly completed) has since been completed by Doron Swade at the Science Museum in London. The Analytical Engine blueprints (of which there are thousands of documents) have been studied in great detail and using today’s more competent tools and methods for creating components, it has been confirmed that the Analytical Engine would theoretically be able to do all that Babbage envisioned all those years ago. What a remarkable mind.
Plan 28 then is a project that will hopefully see the blueprints actually created into a fully working Analytical Engine. The project’s first step will be to virtually create the Analytical Engine in a 3D simulation to find out if it will actually be physically re-creatable, and also work out the correct materials to use to make the parts. I have a very large interest in this project considering I wrote my History of Computation thesis about the man and his life. If you want to know more about the project, visit here: plan28.org
Lovelace & Babbage
Today (being Ada Lovelace day ‘n all) a Charles Babbage/Ada Lovelace themed iPad app was released. It’s based off of the series of comics published in the Times, Economist, Wired and the BBC, and from what I’ve seen so far, it’s really good (even if you don’t know who these people I’ve been babbling on about are!).