by Dinesh Thakur

The Analytical Engine, designed by Charles Babbage between 1833 and 1846, anticipated many features of electronic computing devices invented in the 1940s and 1950s. Although mechanical in all its operations, the Analytical Engine could carry out calculations of arbitrary complexity under the control of punched cards. Conditional branching was possible, and Babbage had prepared test programs that included elaborate calculations based on nested loop structures. In a beautiful anticipation of twentieth-century thinking, Babbage showed that, given sufficient time, any finite calculation could be carried out by the Analytical Engine.