Silicon Valley Welcomes Babbage Calculator

Millionaire commissioned huge device based on 19th-Century plans
By Laila Weir,  Newser User
Posted Apr 10, 2008 1:32 PM CDT
A difference engine.   ((c) Marcin Wichary)
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(Newser) – An unusually large calculator is on display for the next six months at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California. The massive machine is a “difference engine,” a mechanical calculator to determine polynomial functions designed (but never built) by 19th-century inventor Charles Babbage. London’s Science Museum constructed the brand new device for tech multimillionaire Nathan Myhrvold, reports CNet.

The difference engine can perform just one calculation every 6 seconds and is made of parts largely hand-finished by museum staff. It’s so large—weighing in at 9,000 pounds—that it took workers three hours to get it off the delivery truck and another couple of hours to move it into the museum, where it was greeted with applause by a Silicon Valley crowd.