[SIGCIS-Members] Babbage Engine - Full Technical Description on Open Access

Doron Swade d.swade at blueyonder.co.uk
Sat Dec 2 06:58:00 PST 2023

Dear All


I am pleased to report that the full technical description of Charles
Babbage's Difference Engine No. 2 has recently been made available online on
open access by the Science Museum (London).


The Engine was built to Babbage's original drawings (1847-1849) and
completed in 2002. It has 8,000 parts, weighs 5 tonnes, and works as Babbage
intended. It is the first of Babbage's calculating engines to be built in
its entirety. 


Over the decades-long life of the project I documented the interpretation of
the 19th-century drawings, the design decisions made in its construction,
its assembly, operational debugging, and what was learned from running the
Engine for countless live public demonstrations.


A full description of the Engine is presented in two works available online:


Description.pdf> Difference Engine No.2 Technical Description (232 pages,
131 illustrations)

Provides a detailed interpretation of Babbage's design, and documents the
technical understanding that informed the successful construction of the
working machine.


F_Vsn_1.1_Final_SEC1.pdf> Difference Engine No.2 User Manual (147 pages, 199

         Documents the practical procedures for operating the Engine safely,
setting up a calculation, testing, trouble-shooting, fault-finding, and
maintenance including lubrication.


The two documents are free-standing i.e. relevant drawing-excerpts are
embedded in the text so that understanding does not, for the most part, rely
on reference to the full 19th-century design drawings. 


Direct Browser Links: 

Technical Description:


User Manual:



Additional Material


age-papers> The Babbage Papers at the Science Museum:

*	Digitised archive of Babbage papers including full technical archive
and Notebooks.  



rence-engines-and-science-museum> Charles Babbage's Difference Engines and
the Science Museum | Science Museum

*	Short contextual and historical summary. 
*	Links to the Technical Description and User Manual are in Further




Swade, Doron, Charles Babbage's Difference Engine No. 2: Technical
Description. Science Museum, 2023.

Swade Doron, Charles Babbage's Difference Engine No. 2: User Manual. Science
Museum, 2023.


Best wishes

Doron Swade



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