University of Cambridge > Talks.cam > Computer Laboratory Wednesday Seminars > Imaginary Engines: Lovelace, Babbage and the Analytical Engine.

Imaginary Engines: Lovelace, Babbage and the Analytical Engine.

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One hundred years before the first computers were built out of wires, valves and transistors, the Victorian polymath Charles Babbage designed a gigantic steam-powered, punchcard-programmed, cogwheel computer, the Analytical Engine. His friend Ada, Countess of Lovelace, daughter of Lord Byron, completed some of the first programs for the machine, and theorised that one day it could be used for the manipulation of any kind of information. Unfortunately Ada died young and Babbage never built his Engine, leaving their story as one of the greatest what-ifs in the history of science.

Sydney Padua’s cult webcomic “The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage”, now a bestselling graphic novel, combines extensive research with alternate-universe comic-book escapes, where the mechanical computer is finally completed and used to build runaway economic models, defeat spelling errors, and of course, fight crime. In this talk she will describe her re-imagining of these two fascinating and brilliant eccentrics, and walk through her 3-d animations of how the Analytical Engine would have looked and operated, some of the first visualisations ever created of that extraordinary machine.

This talk is part of the Computer Laboratory Wednesday Seminars series.

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