Charles Babbage was born in Devonshire in 1792; he was the son of a banker who left him a considerable fortune when he died. Babbage was privately tutored because of poor health until he entered Trinity College at Cambridge in 1810. He transferred in his third year and stood first at Peterhouse in 1814. He received his M.A. in 1817. For 10 years after graduating he published a variety of mathematical and physical papers, mostly on calculus of functions.

In 1827, advised by his doctor, he went abroad for a year. While there he studied foreign workshops and he was appointed Lucasian Professor at Cambridge (once held by Isaac Newton). He resigned in 1839 so that he could devote himself to his machines.

Twelve months after work on the Difference Engine stopped, Babbage thought of the Analytical Engine. He requested an interview with the first Lord of the Treasury to explain his new idea in 1834, and for eight years pressed for an answer to whether he should complete the Difference Engine or to work on the Analytical Engine. Eventually the government abandoned the project and the Difference Engine was deposited in the museum of Kings College, London and later taken to the South Kensington Museum.

Babbage then turned his attention to the Analytical Engine. In 1848 he started to think about a second difference Engine, but was turned down by the government when he offered them his drawings and notations.

He died at nearly eighty years of age in 1871.