A small piece of paper signed by Charles Babbage and J.F.W. Herschel. English mathematician, computer pioneer, Charles BABBAGE, 1st Baronet Sir John Frederick William HERSCHEL, British astronomer.

A small piece of paper signed by Charles Babbage and J.F.W. Herschel

The unevenly clipped leaf (approximately 58 × 118 mm) is lightly creased where folded, with minor surface loss on the verso where previously mounted, and trifling loss near one corner; the signatures are in excellent condition. Undated, but possibly circa 1850s.

A most felicitous pairing at every level. Herschel and Babbage 'met while undergraduates at Cambridge where they both studied mathematics. They remained lifelong friends. Herschel supported Babbage through personal encouragement, service on the Royal Society committees specially convened to advise on the utility of the engines [mechanical computing engines, or computers], and through his advocacy for continued government investment in their construction. In 1827, shattered by the death of his wife, father and second son in the space of a year, Babbage sought solace with the Herschels in Slough in the rural outskirts of London. When Babbage left shortly after for an extended tour of the Continent, it was to Herschel that he entrusted the construction of the Engine. The press attacked Babbage while he was away. One article questioned the utility of the engines and impugned Babbage's financial probity. Herschel publicly came to Babbage's defense robustly justifying Babbage and his work.... Herschel died five months before Babbage. In a letter to his widow Babbage described Herschel as "one of the earliest and most valued friends of my life"' (Computer History Museum website).

Provenance: Collection of The Hon Barry Jones AC.

Item #116848

Price: $800.00