Birth Of The Concept Of Digital Computer And Hewlett-Packard (HP) – Forbes

Founder of the Microsoft Corporation, Bill Gates, casts his eye over Charles Babbage’s Second Difference Engine, designed between 1847 and 1849 and acknowledged as the forerunner of modern computing, during a visit to London’s Science Museum Sunday December 3 1995 (AP Photo/Stefan Rousseau).

This week’s milestones in the history of technology include Charles Babbage’s idea for the Analytical Engine, the first public screening of films (with paid admission) and the first live HD transmission from the Metropolitan Opera, and the establishment of Hewlett-Packard in a Silicon Valley garage.

December 26, 1837

Chares Babbage puts in writing for the first time a description of his Analytics Engine in manuscript titled “On the mathematical powers of the calculating engine.” Brain Randell in the Origins of Digital Computers:

In the space of perhaps three years since the start of his work on the Analytical Engine in 1834, Babbage had arrived at the concept of a general purpose digital computer consisting of a store, arithmetic unit, punched cad input and output, and a card-controlled sequencing mechanism that provided iteration and conditional branching.

Henry Babbage (Charles’ youngest son):

It is a machine to calculate the numerical value or values of any formula or function of which the mathematician can indicate the method of solution. It is to perform the ordinary rules of arithmetic in any order as previously settled by the mathematician, and any number of times and on any quantities. It is to be absolutely automatic, the slave of the mathematician, carrying out his orders and relieving him from the drudgery of computing. It must print the results, or any intermediate result arrived at.


December 26, 1906

The world’s first full-length feature film, The Story of the Kelly Gang, is shown at the Melbourne Town Hall in Australia. The film traces the life of the legendary bushranger Ned Kelly (1855–1880). In 2007, the film was added to UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register.

December 26, 1979

The Kingdom of Talossa (“inside the house” in Finnish) is founded by 14-year-old Robert Ben Madison, occupying his Madison, Wisconsin, bedroom. In November 1995, it became the first self-declared micronation to establish itself on the Web.

December 28, 1895

The first public screening of films at which admission was charged is held by the Lumière brothers at the Salon Indien du Grand Café in Paris. It featured ten short films, including their first film, Sortie des Usines Lumière à Lyon (Workers Leaving the Lumière Factory). Each film was 17 meters long, which, when hand cranked through a projector, ran approximately 50 seconds. By 1900, the Lumière brothers had produced 1,299 short movies. For the World Fair that year, they developed their new Lumière Wide format which, at 75 mm wide, has held the record for over 100 years as the widest film format.


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