The story of Charles Babbage (1791–1871) is one that is well known to cyberneticians and systems scientists. His contribution to, and impact on, modern computing is recognised not only in the country of his birth but also worldwide. In particular, he played a leading role in the evolution of difference engines. Although it has often been said that the first difference engine was invented by Charles Babbage in 1821, it is also claimed that it was Johann Helfrich Müller (1746–1830), a German engineer and master builder, who presented the first idea of a difference engine. Others were also involved, and the text by Michael Lindgren Glory and Failure: The Difference Engines of Johann Muller, Charles Babbage and George and Edvard Scheutz (MIT Press, Cambridge, Mass., 1990) is well worth reading.
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