The Computer History Museum “is dedicated to the preservation and celebration of computing history.” A current exhibit is a working version of Charles Babbage’s difference engine which is seen as a 19th Century computer design that was never built for a host of reasons from personality to claims that it could not be built with the technology of the time. The man and his machine are described here. One man, Doron Swade, has not only chronicled Babbage’s life of invention, difficulty in working with other people, and on-going quest for a computing machine but built one of the computing machines using methods available in Babbage’s era.
The machine was built, and the story of Nathan Myhrvold’s desire to have one built for him and shipped to the United States is here. Luckily the machine is on display at the Computer History Museum until May, 2009. Here is a video about the machine and the exhibit.
cross-posted at Concurring Opinions