Babbage: on Babbage

On the 150th anniversary of the death of Charles Babbage, we retrace the footsteps of the brilliant but irascible British inventor, mathematician, and engineer. Host Kenneth Cukier investigates why Babbage is hailed by some as the grandfather of the computer, while others argue his contribution is overblown. And could letting go of parts of his legacy help unleash the future of computing?

For full access to The Economist’s print, digital and audio editions subscribe at and sign up for our new weekly science newsletter at


See for privacy and opt-out information.