Engine With A Difference

by wjw on May 4, 2008

Charles Babbage’s Difference Engine No. 2, designed by 1849 but never built due to its complexity, has been built by the Computer History Museum in Mountain View. (There’s another one in the London Science Museum.)

It weighs tons, is powered by a single human turning a crank, and operates flawlessly.

Here’s the video.

And, because this one has a better view of the mechanical parts in operation, here’s another video showing a difference engine made from standard Meccano parts.

(from Chairman Bruce)

pir May 5, 2008 at 2:18 pm

A slight correction, the second difference engine #2 was not built by the Computer History Museum, it was built for the Computer History Museum by the Science Museum in London.



Anonymous May 6, 2008 at 1:56 am

This vides shows it being unwrapped at the Computer History Museum:


The bearded man standing to the left of the pillar is apparently fanzine editor Chris Garcia, an employee of the museum (I cannot begin to tell you how much I envy him!), who has informed me that he is already working on plans to connect this Difference Engine to the one in London, creating a Victorian Internet.

Joseph T Major

Michael Grosberg May 7, 2008 at 6:52 am

Nice, but can it run Linux?

On a more serious note – I would like one day to see a working model of the analytical engine.

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