1909 description of the brain of Charles Babbage, father of the computer

1909 description of the brain of Charles Babbage, father of the computer

Victor Horsley. Description of the Brain of Mr. Charles Babbage, F.R.S. (Hunterian Museum, Royal College of Surgeons). Offprinted from: Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Vol. 200, pp. 117-131 [plates 9-13]. London, Royal Society of London, 1909. 29,9 x 22,7 cm.With 5 photographic plates. Original printed wrappers. The wrappers frayed and damaged, lower right hand corners of some leaves damaged, plates with a very faint marginal stain, last two plates frayed, spine damaged, upper cover with an annotation and a stamp of the Herseninstituut Amsterdam.

 

"The brain of Mr. Babbage is worthy of record as presenting evidence on:--

(1) The neurological value of symmetry as a feature of cerebral growth in an individual of high intellectual ability;

(2) The relative development of the areas of representation of locutory and graphic functions in contrast to sensorial representation."

 

Charles Babbage (1791-1871) was a pioneer in computer science. He designed a so-called Difference Engine, "a special-purpose digital computing machine for the automatic production of mathematical tables (such as logarithm tables, tide tables, and astronomical tables)" (SEP). Babbage built only a small working model and never completed the full-scale machine. In 1990 the machine was finally built from Babbage original designs. He also designed a considerably more ambitious machine, the Analytical Engine, a model of which was under construction at the time of his death.

 

After his death the two halves of his brain were separated. Today one half is preserved at the Hunterian Museum in the Royal College of Surgeons in London, while the other half is on display in the Science Museum, London.

 

Cf: Copeland, 'The Modern History of Computing', in: The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (online)

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