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BABBAGE, Charles.

On the Economy of Machinery and Manufactures.

London, Charles Knight, 1832 Stock Code: 133665
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First edition of this elemental work in the eventual development of all computational devices. On the Economy of Machinery and Manufactures was Babbage's most successful lifetime publication, selling 3,000 copies. It is considered "a turning point in economic writing and firmly established Babbage as a leading authority of the industrial movement" (ODNB). Prompted by the demands for precision in the construction of his first calculating engine, Babbage had made a conscientious and detailed survey of factories and workshops both in England and Europe. An encyclopaedic record of craft, manufacturing, and industrial processes, as well as an analysis of the domestic organization of factories, the work demonstrates Babbage's remarkable prescience. He proposed many scientific management techniques for the first time, including subdivided work, cost accounting, and merit pay systems. He advocated the decimalization of currency, foresaw the role of tidal power as an energy source, and predicted the exhaustion of coal reserves. "The book is at once a hymn to the machine, an analysis of the development of machine-based production in the factory, and a discussion of social relations in industry It was at once translated into French and German, both translations being published in 1833. Throughout the civilized world the book had much effect, becoming the 'locus classicus' of the discussion of machinery and manufacturing" (Hyman, pp. 103; 122).

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Octavo (153 x 100 mm). 20th-century half calf and marbled boards, red morocco label to spine, marbled endpapers.


Lithographic title, with engraved vignette, diagrams and tables to the text.


Title page with shelf mark or price in ink to upper outer corner, trimmed quite closely; still a very good copy.


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