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Gigapixel image lets you take close look at difference engine

Charles Babbage's difference engine is the forefather of today's modern computers, and now, there's a Gigapixel photo of it for you to check out every detail of.

Charles Babbage was the creator of one of the ancestors of the computer, the Babbage Difference engine. The device was created in the 1820's to perform calculations mechanically, as opposed to the by-hand method used by scientists of the time. Back then, a calculator was a person who calculated professionally, but humans make mistakes, and Babbage wanted to find a way to do the same work, without human error. After the difference engine, he sought to improve his design, and came up with plans for the Difference engine #2. Unfortunately, the prohibitive cost meant Babbage never saw his improved machine become a reality.



However, in the years since, replicas have been manufactured, and one of them is stored in the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California. This difference engine now has four Gigapixel images of it, which you can check out right here. The images are a composite, containing a total of 1,350 images each, and up to 28 images per focus stack.


There have been quite a few Gigapixel images lately, most of them of landscapes such as this 26 Gigapixel Paris, or this 16 Gigapixel Machu Picchu. What sets the Babbage picture apart is that it is a close-up, and that has required some complex computer controlled focus and tracking control.

David F.
A grad student in experimental physics, David is fascinated by science, space and technology. When not buried in lecture books, he enjoys movies, gaming and mountainbiking

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