Industrial Evolution

Babbage’s “Difference Engine #2” first built in 2002

For all of those US based readers and listeners, I salute your labors on this day.  The celebration of Labor Day dates back to 1894, something about Grover Cleveland trying to quell labor riots… we get the day off and towels and mattresses go on sale.

The fruits of my labor are reaped binarily rather than with a thresher, and if you’re exploring this corner of the interwebs I suspect yours may be too.    We should be looking back to the development of computing technologies which we have to thank for smooth girlish hands and carpal tunnel syndrome.

I got to thinking and worked out six degrees of Science Sort of in 30 seconds or less for this post.  Labor day, labor unions, industrial revolution, textile mills, Jacquard weaving looms,  and the eternal frenemies Ada Lovelace the “enchantress of numbers” and Charles Babbage designer of the  “difference engine”.

In the 1830’s and 40’s Lovelace and Babbage, both accomplished mathematicians, corresponded at length about the possibilities of automated computation.  While Babbage drew the plans, Lovelace wrote voluminous notes about Babbage’s blueprints including the first computer program, an algorithm for computing Bernoulli number by machine.  It was also Lovelace who first made the connection of using punchcards from Jacquard looms to code the actions of an analog machine.  It is unclear sometimes who did exactly what as the duo both scrambled to take credit, but without a doubt great strides were made.

Ironically, the industrial revolution brought with it a dark ages of sorts, and not until WWI and WWII did the push for computational innovation return.  In fact, Babbage’s engines were not actually constructed until recently.  Here’s one that was built in the 21st century!

I just thought the connection between weaving looms and computers was cool as well as the concept that one paved the way and planted the seed but had to die before the next big thing could flourish.

I’m going to take a nap now, enjoying my day off and whatnot.

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