Geneva/Paris: B. Glaser/Anselin, 1842.
1st Edition. Hardcover. 8vo - over 7¾ - 9¾" tall. Very Good. Item #003649
Genève / Paris, B. Glaser / Anselin, 1842. Entire volume no. 41, 8vo (207 x 129 mm). , 6-420 pp, including half-title and a folding table. Bound in contemporary half-calf, blue marbled boards, spine with gilt decoration and two orange labels lettered in gilt, yellow-dyed edges, original endpaper (light rubbing of boards and extremities, minor wear to corners, slight chipping of spine labels not affecting lettering). Occasional minor foxing, but generally crisp and clean throughout. Provenance: École d'artillerie de Rennes (ink stamps to half-title, title and a few text leaves). A very good copy in untouched binding. ----
RARE FIRST EDITION, journal issue, of the first published account of Babbage's Analytical Engine and the first account of its logical design including the first computer programs ever published. In 1840 Babbage travelled to Turin to make a presentation on the Engine to a group of Italian scientists. Babbage's talk, complete with charts, drawings, models, and mechanical notations, emphasized the Engine's signal feature: its ability to guide its own operations. In attendance at Babbage's lecture was the young Italian mathematician Luigi Federico Menabrea (later prime minister of Italy), who prepared from his notes an account of the principles of the Analytical Engine. He published his paper in French in a Swiss journal two years after Babbage's presentation. The paper must have provided some consolation to Babbage, who was refused government funding for the construction of the machine shortly after its publication.
"In keeping with the more general nature and immaterial status of the Analytical Engine, Menabrea's account dealt little with mechanical details. Instead he described the functional organization and mathematical operation of this more flexible and powerful invention. To illustrate its capabilities, he presented several charts or tables of the steps through which the machine would be directed to go in performing calculations and finding numerical solutions to algebraic equations. These steps were the instructions the engine's operator would punch in coded form on cards to be fed into the machine; hence, the charts constituted the first computer programs. Menabrea's charts were taken from those Babbage brought to Torino to illustrate his talks there" (Stein).
"What may be the most remarkable aspect of Babbage's monumental invention in thought and engineering was the extent to which it was ignored. Menabrea's twenty-three-page paper and its expanded English translation by Ada, Countess of Lovelace in the following year were the only detailed publications on the Analytical Engine before Babbage's account in his autobiography (1864). Shortly after inventing the machine Babbage wrote a manuscript On the Mathematical Powers of the Calculating Engine (1837) which was not published until about 1970. Menabrea himself wrote only two other very brief articles about the Analytical Engine in 1855. They primarily concerned his surprise and fascination in learning that Ada, Countess of Lovelace was the translator of his paper" (Origins of Cyberspace 60).
Reference: Hook & Norman, Origins of Cyberspace 60; Stein, A Life and a Legacy, 1985, p. 92. - Visit our website to see more images!
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