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Charles Babbage's difference engine captured in gigapixel images

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A re-construction of Charles Babbage's difference engine, an early mechanical computer, has been captured in precise detail using gigapixel imagery. Babbage, who essentially invented the mechanical computer in the nineteenth century, was unable to execute on his ideas during his lifetime, but scientists successfully reconstructed his second design for the difference engine in the late eighties. Work began to build Babbage's magnus opus, the highly-complex analytical engine, last year.

Today, two difference engines exist, one in Babbage's London and the other at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California. It's difficult to grasp the scale of the giant machine through the images, so we've included a video of it in action below. If you're ever in town, the Computer History Museum gives daily demos of the difference engine in action for the public.

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