[SIGCIS-Members] Percy Ludgate regarding a "true automatic calculating machine"

Aristotle Tympas tympas at phs.uoa.gr
Sat Jan 2 06:02:47 PST 2021

Dear Brian,

Congratulation on the article about Percy Ludgate -- thank you for
sharing it! Certainly someone that we need to know more about, because he
left us, I think, key comments on critical occasions. Including this:  "It
must be admitted, however, that the true automatic calculating machine
belongs to a possible rather than an actual class". The absence of "true"
automatic calculating machines, now considered to be the exemplar
mechanical ancestors of the 'digital', meant, for Ludgate, extension of
the dependence on humans "operators" (from the celebrated catalog of the
1914 Edinburgh World Fair-- nothing short of a Bible, I think, for us
historians of computing technology).

Happy New Year to all the colleagues and friends of this invaluable
list, may 2021 not bring "true" automation so that us humans continue to
be as indispensable as ever,


> Hi:
> I had a number of very quick responses to
my query. As a result, I now
> know that Baxandall's 1926 Science
Museum publication was largely reused
> in both the 1929 and 1940
editions of Encyclopedia Britannica, and each
> time Ludgate was
mentioned, but only as someone who had designed a
> difference
engine. No mention was made of the fact that he had designed,
> and
indeed published a paper describing his design for, an analytical
engine. This seems to have been completely forgotten by the time of
> War 2.
> My thanks to all who responded to my
> Season's greetings, everyone.
Brian Randell
> School of
Computing, Newcastle University, 1 Science Square, Newcastle
> upon
Tyne, NE4 5TG
> EMAIL = Brian.Randell at ncl.ac.uk PHONE = +44 191 208
> URL =

> On 28/12/2020, 16:10, "Brian Randell"
<brian.randell at newcastle.ac.uk>
> wrote:
> Season's Greetings everyone!
> I%

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