Monday, June 25, 2007

A new arrival... and some more notables

Good news! I was able to acquire a copy of a publication that provided a weath of information about the Steampunk genere before a wider audience became aware of its charm. A copy of Gurps Steampunk landed in to my lap, with a plethora of facts about the genere (and providing a bit more content - lol!) With out further ado, I shall transcribe a brief bio about two of the icons of Steampunk, whose images have been preserved in Babbage... Charles Babbage & Ada Byron

Charles Babbage
Born 1792; Died 1871
Charles Babbage is best remembered for designing the analytical engine, a steam-powered mechanical computer. Trained in mathematics at Cambridge, in 1812 he instituted an Analytical Society to introduce continental mathematics to England, and from 1828 to 1839 he served as Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge. Dissatisfied with errors in published mathematical tables, he imagined machines that would calculate and typeset such tables automatically. His work on his difference engine sharpened his interest in technology and manufacturing and encouraged his belief in the economic importance of industry, an uncommon view then. He found time to invent limelight for theaters, plan general-purpose machine tools, write numerous books, reform the Royal Society, run for Parliament, and become a popular host in London.
He had a penchant for showing off his partially completed difference engine, and the Silver Lady, a dancing clockwork automaton which he first saw as a boy and later purchased.

Ada Byron
Born 1815; Died 1852
Augusta Ada Byron (later the Countess of Lovelace), was Lord Byron's only legitimate child. She was raised by his estranged wife, who had taught her mathematics and music, hoping she would grow up without her father's passionate nature. Ironically, her daughter became passionate about a mathematical idea - Babbage's analytical engine. In 1843, she translated an Italian article on it, adding appendices longer than the original article to set forth new concepts such as the computer program - through it occasioned a brief quarrel with Babbage when he corrected her proofs without informing her! Her later life was difficult, wed to a dull husband who her mother easily dominated. Ada drank and took opium, but was worst afflicted by compulsive gambling, and had an affair with John Crosse, one of her racetrack friends. She died of uterine cancer, nursed by her mother, who took advantage of her weakness to cut her off from all her friends, including Babbage.

Stoddard, W.H. (2000) - Gurps Steampunk, pgs. 6-7, SJG:Austin
[edited for removal of game specific content]

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