This 5 minute segment was a part of yesterday’s All Things Considered, on NPR. Go listen to it! Charles Babbage invented the computer in the 19th century, long before vacuum tubes or transistors were even invented. He called it the “Difference Engine.” He drew plans for an intricate machine — a large and powerful (but purely mechanical) computer but his plans were never fully executed.
This was also the subject of a WIRED magazine interview in 2008:
So next time you want to evaluate a 7th degree polynomial, why not give Babbage’s difference engine a spin? 🙂