Plan 28: Builder Charles Babbage's Analytical Engine

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Plan 28 is working towards building Charles Babbage's Analytical Engine. For the latest news follow the Plan 28 blog.

About the project

For an introduction to Plan 28, read The 100-year Leap or the BBC News article Plan to build 'steam-powered PC'.

Latest information

Autumn 2018 Update

The end is in sight creating the cross-referenced database for the set of some 20 Scribbling Books, the manuscript notebooks in which Babbage recorded his workings and thoughts on his engine designs. Tim Robinson, who has been compiling the database is up to the last year of Babbage’s life (1871) and is within striking distance of completion. The process has taken coming up for three years.

The motive for this undertaking was that before we could commit to building anything we needed to be sure that we had reviewed everything Babbage had to say on a particular topic. The situation is confounded by Babbage’s practice of returning to the same design issues time and time again over periods of decades as a consequence of which related material is unsystematically scattered through the archive...

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Spring 2018 Update

Work continues on the cross-referenced database for Babbage’s Scribbling Books, the set of manuscript notebooks Babbage used to record his daily deliberations. The database marathon has been undertaken by Tim Robinson in the US and the most recent work takes us to the mid-1860s (Babbage died in 1871). Tim reports that this later content is fragmented and not as systematically referenced by Babbage to the mechanical drawings as is his earlier work. This kicks the interpretative can down the road somewhat as once the transcriptions are complete this content will need to be revisited to integrate it into the larger picture. Page-by-page inspection, while exacting, has the rewards of close reading one of which is revealing new content in the cracks. Here is one such: in the context of manufacturing methods Babbage calculates...

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March 2018 Update

Work continues on the cross-referenced database for Babbage’s Scribbling Books, the set of manuscript notebooks Babbage used to record his daily deliberations. Our original intention in supporting the wider release by the Science Museum of the Babbage technical archive was to enlist, in due course, the support of a wider community of interested volunteers. Until recently we have not taken up generous offers of help largely because it was not evident how our limited resources could stretch to manage an extended programme of work and to give the new input appropriate attention. A new development has been to make available for transcription by an enthusiastic volunteer images taken of the Scribbling Book held in the Cambridge Library. This trial programme has prompted us to address a number of issuess: access to material...

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