December 11, 2009

the difference engine

In '91, W. Gibson and and B. Sterling wrote, The Difference Engine a book that imagined Charles Babbage's number-crunching engine actually being built in the 1800's and the computer age arriving a whole century early... but powered by steam, not electricity. A whole sub-genre of literature, art and film has been developed around such ideas called "steampunk." NPR reported today that a team at the Science Museum in London found Babbage's designs from the 1800's, built his machine... and it works. Pretty cool. Steampunk enthusiasts must be stoked.

Matty Boy is now trying to recreate the machine after looking at the photos now.

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