Charles Babbage is considered by many to be the father of computing. Now you can take a peek inside the Difference Engine, his 8000-piece mechanical calculator.
(Credit: xRez Studio)
Although the Difference Engine was not actually completed during Babbage's lifetime, the inventor and mathematician outlined its design and refined it down to the Difference Engine No. 2, which was planned out between 1847 and 1849. It took over 150 years for the machine to come to fruition from Babbage's original design, with a version appearing in London's Science Museum.
A second working version of the Difference Engine was commissioned by Microsoft's former chief technology officer Nathan Myhrvold, and took 10 years to build. Visitors to the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California, can see the working Difference Engine for themselves, but if you prefer to inspect it from the comfort of the internet, this gigapixel image by xRez Studio lets you explore the wonderful machine.
Traditionally, gigapixel images have been constructed from panoramic vistas, cities or large sporting events. The Difference Engine presented a challenge because of its size (rather small, compared to most previous gigapixel targets) and how close it was to the camera. XRez Studio was able to achieve the image by using a custom solution of a Rodeon VR head, a computer to control the focus and focus-stacking software.
Take a look at the gigapixel images over at xRes' website, showing multiple components of the Difference Engine. Plus, if you would like to see the machine at work, the video below shows it in action — complete with a bearded Charles Babbage lookalike hand cranking.