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On “Babbage and Kings” and “How sausage was made”: and now for the rest of the story

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1 Author(s)
Lee, J.A.N. ; Dept. of Comput. Sci., Virginia Polytech. Inst. & State Univ., Blacksburg, VA, USA

A letter dated April 27, 1835 from Charles Babbage to Adolphe Quetelet has been identified as the earliest known reference to the Analytical Engine. The letter was later translated into French and published in the Bulletin of the Royal Academy of Sciences in Brussels in May 1935, and then once again translated back to English to appear in Scientific Memoirs edited by Richard and John E. Taylor in 1843. A 1983 paper by Alfred van Sinderen in the Annals discussed the letter in its 1835 and 1843 reprints, but stated that “the original is not known to exist. ” Herman Berg, a part-time student at the University of Michigan, located the original April 1835 letter in the archives of the Royal Academy, and has since claimed some measure of “intellectual ownership” of the letter. The story of his failures to get the reports of his “find” published in the history of computing literature and the lack of acknowledgment of the “find” in other publications led Michael David, Illinois institute of Technology, to publish two other papers charging the editors and authors of the Annals and the editors of the “Works of Charles Babbage” with forms of plagiarism. This report is a response to those charges

Published in:

Annals of the History of Computing, IEEE  (Volume:17 ,  Issue: 4 )