Sunday, September 18, 2005

For the birds

I love Vaucanson's (1709-1782) duck. One of the many fascinating inventions that came from this man of whom Voltaire said: "A rival to Prometheus, [Vaucanson] seemed to steal the heavenly fires in his search to give life". Among the many far-reaching innovations that he introduced, one in particular stands as the seed of a revolution he could not have imagined. He started to use punch cards to automate weaving. This generated great hostility from the workers who saw their job in peril (sounds familiar?).
His invention was later perfected by Jaquard (1752-1834), the father of the modern loom, which some consider the first graphical computer.

Later on Charles Babbage (1792-1871) picked up the punch card idea which became an integral part of modern day computers as a programming input device, thanks to Augusta Ada Byron Countess of Lovelace (1815-52), the first programmer.

How is that for the birds?

1 comment:

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