Charles BabbageCharles Babbage developed the analytical engine project after an earlier computing project the difference engine that Babbage started in 1822. The difference engine could solve polynomial equations using a numerical method called the "method of differences". However, the analytical engine was the first general computational device, with the ability to solve different types of equations. The use of punch cards to record a program was inspired by the Jacquard loom, which used similar punch cards to control the pattern being woven by the loom.
Being mechanical rather than electrical, the analytical engine worked by a series of gears and levers. Charles Babbage started building his analytical engine in 1833 and continued to tinker with the machine until the day he died.
Charles Babbage's motive for inventing the difference engine and analytical engine was the desire to create absolutely accurate mathematical tables.
Impact of the Analytical EngineDuring a public lecture on Charles Babbage held at the University of Witwatersrand, historian Philip Machanick stated, "What made the analytical engine such a feat of engineering was that it was built before the discovery of electronics, and was entirely mechanical. Its memory consisted of gears, while the processing unit, or mill, consisted of cams, clutches, cranks and gears."