BABBAGE, Charles Mr Babbage's Invention. Copies of the correspondence between the Lords Commissioners of His Majesty's Treasury and the President and Council of the Royal Society, relative to an Invention of Mr. Babbage.

House of Commons. 1823.

£3500


Folio. Unbound, stitched at inner margin as issued, in custom-made blue cloth-backed chemise with silk ties and paper label to front; pp. 6 + [ii], docket title to verso of last leaf; joint sometime subtly reinforced, contemporary ink number '145' to front page and '157' to recto of final leaf, near fine.

First edition, offprint version, after the extremely rare privately printed version from 1822. This copy is the first separate printing of the British government's reprint of Babbage's 1822 letter to Sir Humphry Davy which also appears in Vol 15 of The House of Commons Sessional Papers, paginated 9-16. This separate printing also includes for the first time copies of accompanying letters from the Treasury and the Royal Society.

Babbage's letter to Sir Humphry Davy upon the completion of his experimental difference engine led the great man to recommend the project to the government for funding. Consequently, in 1823 Babbage was granted £1500 from the Civil Contingency Fund to build the full scale Difference Engine No. 1. 'Babbage had Clement assemble a small section of the engine as a demonstration piece. The assembly, which worked impeccably, represented about one-seventh of the whole machine and was ready toward the end of 1832. This section of Difference Engine no. 1, transferred to the Science Museum, London, in 1862, is the first known automatic calculator and ranks among the most celebrated icons in the prehistory of computing.' (ODNB).

No copies on OCLC; one auction record in past 20 years.

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