It turns out that at some point during Charles Babbage’s life he drew up plans for a steam powered computer – complete with CPU, memory, a UI, a printer and a little bell to alert the operator if something went wrong. Unfortunately it seems he was your typical “mad-professor” type and was always starting things and never finishing them, so his plans exist but no part of it was ever built in his life time. And today only a very small component has been built by the national science museum.
Until now…! John Graham-Cumming is now working with a team of fellow computer scientists (and one or two steam train experts I’ll wager) on a project to build this “steam powered computer”.
Here are the links:
John Graham-Cumming explaining the project far better than I could to an audience at Imperial College TEDx,
His website going into even more detail…
And the link to donate so that you too can help make this crazy dream a reality.