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On the Economy of Machinery and Manufactures
Charles Knight, Pall Mall East, London 1832 - At xvi, 320 pp. followed by 2 pp. publisher's advertisements, this is the first edition of Babbage's classic treatise, the first known book of operations research, discussing topics including the regulation of power, control of raw materials, division of labor, time studies, the advantage of size in manufacturing, inventory control, and duration and replacement of machinery. On pp. 166-167 Babbage analyzes the production of this book as an example of the cost of each step in a particular production process. "The work was Babbage's most complete and professional piece of writing," going through four editions in his lifetime. Furthermore, while most copies (even of the expanded, later editions) now available have been rebound, this copy is in the original binding of purple cloth (showing a moire pattern, probably silk), and scarce thus, though faded to brown at the spine and along top of the rear board, where it appears to have been shelved next to a shorter volume. Purple library stamps of the Collegium Maximum Heythrop. to blank FFE and to engraved title page, only. No other library markings or attachments. Previous owner's name in period script to top of second blank. Light foxing to preliminaries. This volume complete with its original endpapers, which have not needed any repair. Small nick at front of spine; bottom board corners peeking through the cloth. The calculating engines of English mathematician Charles Babbage (1791-1871) are among the most celebrated icons in the prehistory of computing. Babbage's Difference Engine No.1 was the first successful automatic calculator and remains one of the finest examples of precision engineering of the time -- though in fact the critical tolerances required by his machines exceeded the level of materials technology then available. Sometimes referred to as the "father of computing," Babbage was already famous for his work on his calculating machine when he secured a grant of £1500 to pursue his inquiries into the economics of manufacturing, this book being the result. In his preface he acknowledges the book is a direct consequence of his research and many hours spent visiting places of manufacture in connection with the development of his calculating machine. Elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1816 and playing a prominent role in the foundation of the Astronomical Society (later the Royal Astronomical Society) in 1820, he advocated the decimalization of currency, foresaw the role of tidal power as an energy source, and predicted the exhaustion of coal reserves. He also played an important role in the establishment of the Association for the Advancement of Science and the Statistical Society (later the Royal Statistical Society). Only fragments of Babbage's prototype Difference Engine have been preserved, and though he spent most of his time and large fortune after 1856 attempting to build his subsequent, multi-task Analytical Engine, he never succeeded in completing any of his several designs. George Scheutz, a Swedish printer, did successfully construct a machine based on Babbage's Difference Engine in 1854. That machine printed mathematical, astronomical and actuarial tables with unprecedented accuracy, and was used by the British and American governments. This small volume was a turning point in economic writing and firmly established Babbage as a leading authority of the industrial movement. History of science, mechanical engineering. [Attributes: First Edition; Hard Cover]
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Last Found On: 2017-12-21           Check availability:      AbeBooks    


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