Analytical Engine

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analytical engine

[‚an·əl′id·ə·kəl ′en·jən]
(computer science)
An early-19th-century form of mechanically operated digital computer.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

Analytical Engine

A design for a general-purpose digital computer proposed by Charles Babbage in 1837 as a successor to his earlier special-purpose Difference Engine.

The Analytical Engine was to be built from brass gears powered by steam with input given on punched cards. Babbage could never secure enough funding to build it, and so it was, and never has been, constructed.
This article is provided by FOLDOC - Free Online Dictionary of Computing (

Analytical Engine

A programmable calculator designed by British scientist Charles Babbage. After his Difference Engine failed its test in 1833, Babbage started the design of the Analytical Engine in 1834. Developed in spurts due to lack of funds and constant redesign, a trial model was finally built in 1871, the year Babbage died. Although never completed, it was a major advance in computing because it contained the principles of the stored program computer. For example, it provided a conditional statement that would branch somewhere else in the program based on the value being tested. The parts of the Engine that were actually built did work however.

Babbage's colleague and close friend, Augusta Ada Byron, the Countess of Lovelace and daughter of the poet Lord Byron, explained the machine's concepts to the public. Her programming notes survived, making her the first official computing machine programmer in the world. The Ada programming language was named after her. See analytical database engine, Difference Engine and Mark I.

Analytical Engine
Programming the Analytical Engine might have been a bit more tedious than programming one of today's computers. (Image courtesy of Charles Babbage Institute, University of Minnesota,
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References in periodicals archive ?
There's also a chapter that mainly focused on Ada Lovelace, who wrote the programs for the Analytical Engine made by Charles Babbage, essentially making her the first-ever programmer.
In the letter, Babbage told Queen Victoria and Prince Albert about his invention the "Analytical Engine" upon which the first computer programmes were created by Ada Lovelace, a daughter of Lord Byron.
In the letter, Babbage writes of his Analytical Engine, on which the first computer programs were created.
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In later life she was best known for her work on Charles Babbage's proposed mechanical general-purpose computer, the Analytical Engine.
Ada is named after Ada Lovelace, who worked on Babbage's Analytical Engine and is regarded as the first computer programmer.
The intersection between weaving and science has a long history, one that dates back to Charles Babbage's nineteenth-century analytical engine (and to Ada Lovelace's early algorithms for it), which was based on his observations of jacquard looms, the first partially automated weaving machines.
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In the 1830s, Charles Babbage built a Difference Engine (mechanical calculator) and then an Analytical Engine (a decimal digital computing device).
The daughter of the iconic poet Lord Byron, Ada played a critical role in shaping public perception of one of the first computing devices: Charles Babbage's Analytical Engine. In her richly detailed Enchantress of Numbers, Jennifer Chiaverini presents a vivid portrait of Ada's too-short life while illuminating the significance of her professional accomplishments.

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