Another early mechanical computer was the Difference Engine, designed in the early 1820s by British mathematician and scientist Charles Babbage. Although never completed by Babbage, the Difference Engine was intended to be a machine with a 20-decimal capacity that could solve mathematical problems. Babbage also made plans for another machine, the Analytical Engine, considered the mechanical precursor of the modern computer. The Analytical Engine was designed to perform all arithmetic operations efficiently; however, Babbage’s lack of political skills kept him from obtaining the approval and funds to build it.
Augusta Ada Byron, countess of Lovelace, was a personal friend and student of Babbage. She was the daughter of the famous poet Lord Byron and one of only a few woman mathematicians of her time. She prepared extensive notes concerning Babbage’s ideas and the Analytical Engine. Lovelace’s conceptual programs for the machine led to the naming of a programming language (Ada) in her honor. Although the Analytical Engine was never built, its key concepts, such as the capacity to store instructions, the use of punched cards as a primitive memory, and the ability to print, can be found in many modern computers