babbage's intelligence by simon schaffer


Thanks to Billy Ashworth, Bob Brain, William Ginn, Iwan Morus, Otto Sibum and Richard Staley for their generous help, and to the librarians at the Cambridge University Library, the British Library and the Royal Society for help with manuscripts in their possession.

[1] Henry Colebrooke, "Address on presenting the Gold Medal of the Astronomical Society to Charles Babbage", Memoirs of the Astronomical Society 1 (1825), 509-12, pp. 509-10; Babbage to Herschel, 27 June 1823, Royal Society HS 2.184.

[2] Herschel to Babbage, 25 October 1814, Royal Society HS 2.31; H.W.Buxton, Memoir of the Life and Labours of the Late Charles Babbage, ed. R.A.Hyman ([1880] Cambridge, MA.: M.I.T. Press, 1988), p. 46.

[3] Michel Foucault, Discipline and Punish (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1979), pp. 195-228; Ian Hacking, The Taming of Chance (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990) pp. 55-64; Adrian Desmond, The Politics of Evolution (Chicago: Chicago University Press, 1989).

[4] John R. Searle, "Minds, Brains and Programs", in Rainer Born, ed., Artificial Intelligence: the case against (Beckenham: Croom Helm, 1987), 18-40 (originally in Behavioural and Brain Sciences 3 (1980), 417-24).

[5] H.M.Collins, Artificial Experts (Cambridge, MA.: M.I.T. Press, 1990), pp. 64-5.

[6] Steven Shapin, "The Invisible Technician", American Scientist 77 (1989), 554-63; Howard Becker, Art Worlds (Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1982).

[7] Karl Marx, Capital Volume One ( [1867] Penguin: Harmondsworth, 1976), p. 493 n.4; "Speech at the Anniversary of the People's Paper" [April 14 1856] in Selected Works, ed. V.Adoratsky , 2 vols. (London: Lawrence and Wishart, 1942), 2: 428; Grundrisse, Notebook 6 [February 1858], ed. Martin Nicolaus (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1973), pp. 692-3. For Marx as a systems theorist see Thomas P. Hughes, "The Order of the Technological World", History of Technology 5 (1980), 1-16, pp. 5-7 and Raniero Panzieri, "The Capitalist Use of Machinery", in Phil Slater, ed., Outlines of a Critique of Technology (London: Ink Links, 1980), 44-68.

[8] Ada Lovelace, "Sketch of the Analytical Engine by L.F.Menabrea", Taylor's Scientific Memoirs, 3 (1843), 666-731, pp. 689-90 (translation of L.F.Menabrea, "Notions sur la machine analytique de M. Charles Babbage", Bibliotheque universelle de Geneve 41 (1842), 352-76, p. 376).

[9] Charles Babbage, Passages from the Life of a Philosopher (London: Longmans, 1864), pp. 53-74; Buxton, Memoir of Babbage, pp. 80-102; Anthony Hyman, Charles Babbage: Pioneer of the Computer (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1982), pp. 123-35; Michael Lindgren, Glory and Failure: the Difference Engines of Johann Mueller, Charles Babbage and Georg and Edvard Scheutz (Cambridge, MA.: M.I.T.Press, 1990), pp. 52-59.

[10] For these plans see Babbage, Passages, pp. 112-41; Hyman, Charles Babbage, pp. 164-73; for Ada Lovelace's role see Dorothy Stein, Ada: a Life and a Legacy (Cambridge, MA.: M.I.T.Press, 1985), pp. 108-20 (who plays down her originality) and Betty Alexandra Toole, Ada, the Enchantress of Numbers (Mill Valley, CA.: Strawberry Press, 1992), pp. 194-260 (who emphasises it).

[11] Babbage, Passages, p.114.

[12] Babbage, Passages, pp.129-35; Lovelace/Menabrea, "Sketch of the Analytical Engine", p. 675. For Piedmontese science policy, Plana and Menabrea see Pietro Redondi, "Cultura e scienza dall'illuminismo al positivismo", in Gianni Micheli, ed., Storia d'Italia: Scienza e tecnica nella cultura e nella societa dal Rinascimento a oggi (Turin: Einaudi, 1980), 685-814, pp. 766-76.

[13] Buxton, Memoir of Babbage, p.216 n.8; Lovelace/Menabrea, "Sketch of the Analytical Engine", pp. 675, 689, 692, 723. For the ambitions for a new science see Toole, Ada, pp. 209-16.

[14] Lovelace/Menabrea, "Sketch of the Analytical Engine", pp. 696, 706; Babbage, Passages, pp. 306-8. Passages was dedicated to Victor Emmanuel, then King of unified Italy. Babbage was an enthusiastic correspondent of his premier, Cavour.

[15] Hyman, Charles Babbage, pp. 82-3; Maxine Berg, The Machinery Question and the Making of Political Economy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1980), p. 162. For the Ricardian critique see [J.R.McCulloch], "Babbage on Machinery and Manufactures", Edinburgh Review 56 (1833), 313- 32, p.326; Biancamaria Fontana, Rethinking the Politics of Commercial Society: the Edinburgh Review 1802-1832 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985), pp. 140-6 .

[16] Charles Babbage, On the Economy of Machinery and Manufactures 4th ed. (London: Charles Knight, 1835), preface (1832), p. iii.

[17] Babbage, Economy of Machinery, p. 195. The first reference to Prony is in Babbage to Davy, 3 July 1822, published as A Letter to Humphry Davy (London: Booth, 1822), p.8. The gift from Didot in 1819 is recorded at the front of Babbage's copy of the sine tables, Cambridge University Library MSS ADD 8705.37. For other responses see [Dionysius Lardner], "Babbage's Calculating Engines", Edinburgh Review 59 (1834), 263-327, p. 275.

[18] Babbage, Passages, pp. 59-63 and 114-116.

[19] Babbage, Passages, pp. 123-9 and The Exposition of 1851, 2nd ed. (London: John Murray, 1851), pp. 184-5.

[20] Babbage, Passages, pp. 120-2.

[21] Babbage, Passages, p. 67 and Exposition, p.188.

[22] Babbage, Economy of Machinery, p. 118. For Babbage's notes on his own tours, compiled for the book, see Cambridge University Library MSS ADD 8705.25, p. 10.

[23] Babbage, Exposition, p.171. For political economy and the science of progress in the 1830s see Simon Schaffer, "The Nebular Hypothesis and the Science of Progress" in J.R.Moore, ed., History, Humanity and Evolution (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989).

[24] Babbage, Economy of Machinery, pp. 120, 175. See Richard M. Romano, "The Economic Ideas of Charles Babbage", History of Political Economy 14 (1982), 385-405, p. 391. For Marx's response to the Babbage principle see Karl Marx, Capital: Volume One (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1976), p.469: "the collective worker now possesses all the qualities necessary for production in an equal degree of excellence, and expends them in the most economical way".

[25] Babbage, Economy of Machinery, pp. 54, 250-1; Buxton, Memoir of Babbage, p. 194.

[26] Babbage, Economy of Machinery, pp. 379, 388; Hyman, Babbage, p.86; Buxton, Memoir of Babbage, pp. 215, 111. For Babbage on honours see Exposition, pp.220-49 and for the Bonapartist connexion see Reflections on the Decline of Science in England (London: Fellowes, 1830), pp. 25-27.

[27] [Francis Place], in Trades' Magazine and Mechanics' Weekly Gazette, 49 (June 1826), 779-80, cited in Gregory Claeys, "The Reaction to Political Radicalism and the Popularisation of Political Economy in early Nineteenth Century Britain", in Terry Shinn and Richard Whitley, eds., Expository Science (Dordrecht: Reidel, 1985), 119-136, p. 129. Here Place summarised the socialist views on productive labour which he rejected.

[28] Babbage, Passages, pp. 17-18, 365-7, 425-7. See Hyman, Babbage, p.175.

[29] Hyman, Babbage, p. 192; James Nasmyth, Autobiography, ed. Samuel Smiles (London: John Murray, 1883), pp. 142-3, 134; Carolyn Cooper, "The Portsmouth System of Manufacture", Technology and Culture 25 (1984), 182-225, p. 213. For Watkins' models see Watkins to Babbage, 15 January 1834, British Library MSS Add 37188 f.160.

[30] Hyman, Babbage, p.79.

[31] E.P.Thompson, The Making of the English Working Class (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1968), pp. 889, 915; John Rule, The Labouring Classes in Early Industrial England (London: Longman, 1986), pp. 357-63.

[32] E.P.Thompson, "The Moral Economy of the English Crowd", Past and Present 38 (1967) and Customs in Common ((London: Merlin, 1991), chapters 4 and 5; Foucault, Discipline and Punish, part 3 and "The Eye of Power", in Colin Gordon, ed., Michel Foucault: Power/Knowledge (Brighton: Harvester, 1980), chapter 8. For customary skill see John Rule, "The Property of Skill in the Period of Manufacture", in Patrick Joyce, ed., The Historical Meanings of Work (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987), 99-118.

[33] Babbage to Wellington, 23 December 1834, British Library MSS ADD 40611 f.181.

[34] Babbage, "The science of number reduced to mechanism" (1822) in Buxton, Memoir of Babbage, p. 65.

[35] Buxton, Memoir of Babbage, p.86.

[36] William Fairbairn, Treatise on Mills and Machines (London, 1861), p. v; Samuel Smiles, Industrial Biography: Iron Workers and Tool Makers (London, 1863). The Life of Clement is chapter 12.

[37] K.R.Gilbert, "Machine-Tools", in C.Singer et al., eds., History of Technology Volume 4 (Oxford: Clarendon, 1958), 417-41; A.E.Musson, "Joseph Whitworth and the Growth of Mass Production Engineering", Business History 17 (1975), 109-49, p. 115.

[38] "Autobiography of Thomas Wood" in John Burnett, ed., Useful Toil: Autobiographies of Working People (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1984), p. 310; Nasmyth, Autobiography, p.125.

[39] Buxton, Memoir of Babbage, pp. 81-2, 97; Hyman, Babbage, pp. 125, 130-2; Nasmyth, Autobiography, p.130. For the move to Dorset Street, see Babbage to Clement, 18 May 1832, British Library MSS Add 37186 f.400. For Clement's refusal to give bills, see Clement to Babbage, 18 November 1829, British Library MSS Add 37184, f. 419.

[40] Hyman, Babbage, pp. 124, 128 and Jarvis to Babbage, February 1831, British Library MSS ADD 37185 f.419. The best discussion of the fight with Clement is William Ginn, Philosophers and Artisans: the relationship between men of science and instrument makers in London 1820-1860 (PhD thesis, Kent, 1991), pp. 157-69.

[41] For state standardisation, see Julian Hoppit, "Reforming Britain's Weights and Measures", English Historical Review (1993), 82-104; for the fiscal-military state see John Brewer, The Sinews of Power: War, Money and the English State (London: Unwin Hyman, 1989).

[42] Babbage to Wellington, July 1834, in Buxton, Memoir of Babbage, p. 104; Jarvis and Clement to Babbage, in Hyman, Babbage, pp. 131-2.

[43] Wright to Babbage, 18 June 1834 and 13 January 1839, British Library MSS ADD 37188 f.390 and 37191 ff. 99-100; compare Hyman, Babbage, pp. 66, 107.

[44] Babbage, "Notes for Economy of Manufacture", University Library Cambridge MSS Add 8705.25 p. 10; Babbage, "Report on the Calculating Machine", 1830, British Library MSS ADD 37185 f. 264 ; Nasmyth, Autobiography, pp. 148-9, 179. Compare Ginn, Philosophers and Artisans, p. 167, on the uniqueness of artisan skill.

[45] John Foster, Class Struggle and the Industrial Revolution (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1974), pp. 224-5; Ian Inkster, Science and Technology in History (London: Macmillan, 1991), pp. 82-83.

[46] Babbage, Economy of Machinery, p. 67; Charles Hotzapffel, Turning and Mechanical Manipulation, 5 vols. (London, 1843-1884), 2: 984-91; Nasmyth to Babbage, 22 June 1855 and Babbage to Whitworth, July 1855, British Library MSS ADD ff. 249, 366. The cartoon is in de Morgan to Babbage, 21 October 1839, British Library MSS ADD 37191 f. 256.

[47] Cooper, "Portsmouth System"; Peter Linebaugh, "Technological Repression and the Origin of the Wage", The London Hanged (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1991), chapter 11.

[48] Cooper, "Portsmouth System", pp. 213-14; Linebaugh, London Hanged, pp. 399-401.

[49] Babbage, "On a Method of Expressing by Signs the Action of Machinery", Philsoophical Transactions 116 (1826), 250-65 and draft in Cambridge University Library MSS ADD 8705.21; [Lardner], "Babbage's Calculating Engine", pp. 318-319. For Lardner's collaboration on mechanical notation with Babbage, and its publicity in Paris and Berlin, see Babbage to Dupin, 20 December 1833 and Babbage to Humboldt, December 1833, British Library MSS ADD 37188 ff. 117, 123.

[50] Friedrich Engels, The Condition of the Working Class in England, ed. Eric Hobsbawm ([1845] London: Granada, 1982), p.214.

[51] Charles Dickens (1838) cited in Stephen Marcus, Engels, Manchester and the Working Class (New York: Norton, 1985), p. 31; Doyce in Little Dorrit, Book 1 chapter 10 and Gradgrind's Observatory in Hard Times, Book 1 chapter 15. Babbage describes the three clocks in Economy, p.198.

[52] Maxine Berg, The Age of Manufactures 1700-1820 (London: Fontana, 1985), p.229.

[53] Babbage, Passages, pp. 230-2; Economy, pp. 115-16, 269-71; Babbage to Evans, British Library MSS ADD 37189 f. 18; Nasmyth, Autobiography, p.164. On workshop secrecy see Clive Behagg, "Secrecy, Ritual and Folk Violence: the Opacity of the Workplace in the First Half of the Nineteenth Century", in R.D.Storch, ed., Popular Culture and Custom in Nineteenth Century England (London: Croom Helm, 1982), 154-79, pp. 156, 159.

[54] For Smith's invisible hand see A.L.Macfie, "The Invisible Hand of Jupiter", Journal of the History of Ideas 32 (1971), 595-9; for Hutton's system see R.Grant, "Hutton's Theory of the Earth", in L.Jordanova and R.S.Porter, eds., Images of the Earth (Chalfont St Giles: British Society for History of Science, 1979), 23-38.

[55] Adam Smith, Essays on Philosophical Subjects, ed. W.P.D.Wightman, J.C.Bryce and I.S.Ross ([1795] Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1980), pp. 44, 50, 66.

[56] For Stewart's role see Anand C.Chitnis, The Scottish Enlightenment and Early Victorian English Society (London: Croom Helm, 1986), pp. 22-28; Pietro Corsi, "The Heritage of Dugald Stewart: Oxford Philosophy and the Method of Political Economy 1809-32", Nuncius, 2 (1987), 89-144; Boyd Hilton, The Age of Atonement (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988), pp. 38-41, 170. For Babbage's close alliance with Stewart see Hyman, Babbage, p.55; Buxton, Memoir of Babbage, p. 350. In 1821 Babbage testified to the "influence which [Stewart's] works on the Philosophy of Mind made in directing the course" of his own : Babbage to Helen Stewart, April 1821, British Library MSS ADD 37182 (thanks to Billy Ashworth for this source).

[57] W.V.Farrar, "Andrew Ure and the Philosophy of Manufactures", Notes and Records of the Royal Society 27 (1973), 299-324, p. 309; Andrew Ure, The Philosophy of Manufactures (London: Charles Knight, 1835), pp. ix, 42-44, 55-66 ; Hilton, Age of Atonement, p. 198; Karl Marx, Capital: Volume One (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1976), p.470; Evans to Babbage, 16 February 1835, British Library MSS ADD 37189 f.17. For Ure's organic systems theory see Boyd Hilton.

[58] William Cooke Taylor, Factories and the Factory System (London: Jeremiah How, 1844), p.11. For his presence at the BAAS see Cooke Taylor, Tour in the Manufacturing Districts of Lancashire, 2nd ed. (London: Duncan and Malcolm, 1842), pp. 223; for his ethnography see Christopher Herbert, Culture and Anomie: Ethnographic Imagination in the Nineteenth Century (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1991), pp. 61-64.

[59] Manchester as it is (Manchester: Love and Barton, 1839), pp. 201-2, 214-17, 210. For Nasmyth on the strikes see Nasmyth, Autobiography, pp. 222-8. For Manchester and machine tools see A.E.Musson, Joseph Whitworth and the Growth of Mass-production Engineering", Business History 17 (1975), 109-49, p. 113. For Chartist demonstrations see Dorothy Thompson, The Chartists (Aldershot: Wildwood House, 1984), ch.3.

[60] Ure, Philosophy of Manufactures, pp. 20-21, 25; Manchester as it is, pp. 217, 32-33; Nasmyth's parliamentary evidence 1867-8, in Maxine Berg, ed., Technology and Toil in Nineteenth Century Britain (London: CSE Books, 1979), p. 159.

[61] Cooke Taylor, Factories and the Factory System, pp. i-ii.

[62] Berg, Age of Manufactures, p. 243; Tine Bruland, "Industrial Conflict as a source of technical innovation: the development of the automatic spinning mule", Economy and Society 11 (1982), 91- 121; Ure, Philosophy of Manufactures, p.367; Marx, Capital, p.563; William Lazonick, "Industrial Relations and Technical Change: the case of the self-acting mule", Cambridge Journal of Economics 3 (1979), 231-262. Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (1818) was subtitled "the modern Prometheus".

[63] Engels, Condition of the Working Class, pp. 214-15, 39. Compare Marcus, Engels, pp. 135-7, 178- 99.

[64] Cooke Taylor, Factories and the Factory System, pp. 1, 5, 77; James Kay Shuttleworth, Moral and Physical Condition of the Working Classes employed in the Cotton Manufacture in Manchester (London, 1832), p. 47.

[65] Cooke Taylor, Tour in the Manufacturing Districts, pp. 140, 126, 139 and Factories and the Factory System, p.3; Nasmyth's testimony in Berg, Technology and Toil, p.158.

[66] Andrew Ure, Dictionary of Arts, in Manchester as it is, p.207; Ure, Philosophy of Manufactures, p.13; Marx, Capital, p.544: he had already discussed this passage from Ure in Poverty of Philosophy ([1847] Peking: Foreign Languages Press, 1978), p.138 and Grundrisse ([1858] Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1973), p. 690, where it is linked with Babbage's Economy of Machinery.

[67] Raphael Samuel, "The Workshop of the World: Steam Power and Hand Technology in mid-Victorian Britain", History Workshop Journal, 3 (1977), 6-72, p. 40.

[68] Cooke Taylor, Tour, pp. 116, 123-4. For the strike see Mick Jenkins, The General Strike of 1842 (London: Lawrence and Wishart, 1980), chapter 2.

[69] Edward Baines, History of the Cotton Manufacture of Great Britain (London, 1835), p.460 and Peter Gaskell, Artisans and Machinery (London: Parker, 1836), pp. 7-9. For Baines see Berg, Machinery Question, pp. 103-4, 196-7; for Gaskell see Engels, Condition of the Working Class, p. 98.

[70] Berg, Machinery Question, p.172; Hyman, Babbage, p.84.

[71] Berg, Machinery Question, pp. 126-8. On the "property of skill" see Peter Linebaugh, "Labour History without the Labour Process", Social History, 7 (1982) and Rule, "The Property of Skill in the Period of Manufacture".

[72] Whewell to Jones, 14 February 1843 in Isaac Todhunter, ed. William Whewell: an Account of his Writings, 2 vols. (London: Macmillan, 1876), 2: 312-13; William Whewell, ed., Literary Remains (London: Longmans, 1859), p.25. See Berg, Machinery Question, pp. 130-133; Philip Mirowski, More Heat than Light (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989), p. 126; M.Norton Wise and Crosbie Smith, "Work and Waste", History of Science (1989).

[73] Official Gazette of the Trades Union (August 1834) in Berg, Technology and Toil, p.84; James Martineau at Liverpool, in Berg, Machinery Question, p.158; Humphry Price, A Glance at the Present Times chiefly with reference to the Working Men (London, 1838), pp. 3-5. Price was a Kidderminster priest who worked for Chartism in the west country.

[74] Robert Owen, A New View of Society ([1816] London: Dent, 1927), p. 9; Engels, Condition of the Working Class, pp. 169, 204.

[75] Thomas Carlyle, Sartor Resartus ([1833] London: Collins, 1931), p. 232.

[76] William Whewell, Astronomy and General Physics Considered with reference to Natural Theology (London: Pickering, 1834), p. 334 and Of a Liberal Education in General (London: Pickering, 1845), pp. 40-41. See Richard Yeo, "William Whewell, Natural Theology and the Philosophy of Science in mid-nineteenth-century Britain", Annals of Science 36 (1979), 493-516.

[77] Babbage, Ninth Bridgewater Treatise, 2nd ed. (London: John Murray, 1838), pp. 32-43; Babbage's first experiment with the Difference Engine, 18 May 1833, Cambridge University Library MSS ADD 8705.38 p.38. For the date of Whewell's Treatise and his intention to single out William Rowan Hamilton as a notable exception to the irreligion of mathematicians, see Whewell to Jones, 2 February 1833 and Whewell to Hamilton, 18 March 1833, in Todhunter, Whewell, 2: 154, 162.

[78] Lady Byron to King, 21 June 1833, in Doris Langley Moore, Ada Countess of Lovelace (London: John Murray, 1977), p.44; George Ticknor, Life, Letters and Journals (London, 1876).

[79] Lyell to Babbage, May 1837, in K.Lyell, Life,Letters and Journals of Charles Lyell, 2 vols. (London: John Murray, 1881), 2: 9-10; Bowditch to Babbage, 21 February 1835, British Library MSS ADD 37189 f.28. For the Treatise and actualism see W.F.Cannon, "The Problem of Miracles in the 1830s", Victorian Studies 4 (1960), 5-32.

[80] Babbage, Ninth Bridgewater Treatise, pp. 108-19 and Passages, p.405.

[81] Foucault, "The Eye of Power"; for Smiles on self-fashioning and system building see Thomas Parke Hughes, "Introduction", in Smiles, Selections from Lives of the Engineers (Cambridge, MA.: M.I.T.Press, 1966), pp. 9-25.

[82] Henry Mayhew, London Labour and the London Poor, 4 vols. (London: Griffin, Bohn, 1861-2), 2: 6-9 citing Babbage, Economy of Machinery, pp. 10-11, 393-6. For Mayhew on the unproductive body see Catherine Gallagher, "The Body versus the Social Body in Malthus and Mayhew", in C.Gallagher and Thomas Laqueur, eds., The Making of the Modern Body (Los Angeles: California University Press, 1987), 83- 106, p. 99; Herbert, "Mayhew's Cockney Polynesia", in Culture and Anomie, chapter 4.

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