BABBAGE, Charles (1791-1871). On the Economy of Machinery and Manufactures. London: Charles Knight, 1832.
8o (170 x 108 mm). 2-page publisher's advertisement at end. Engraved vignette title-page by J. Bate (unevenly browned). (Inkstains on p. 104, one or two spots.) Original plum moiré cloth, gilt, uncut (rebacked preserving the original spine, corners scuffed, endpapers renewed). Provenance: North London Literary and Scientific Institution (presentation inscription from the author); National Institute of Economic and Social Research (library stamp).
"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" (Hyman)
FIRST EDITION, LARGE PAPER ISSUE. PRESENTATION COPY OF BABBAGE'S MOST IMPORTANT PUBLICATION, inscribed by Babbage on the recto of the first blank: "North London Literary and Scientific Institution with the Author's best wishes for success." One of the first books on operations research, and a classic of economics. Babbage undertook this analysis of machinery and manufacturing processes to discover ideas and techniques that could be applied to the construction of his Difference Engine no. 1, which he knew would stretch the available mechanical technology to its limits. Primary themes of the book were the division of labor and the division of mental labor, to which Babbage devoted chapters 19 and 20. Rather than a study limited to engineering and manufacturing techniques, his book turned out to be an analysis of manufacturing processes within their economic context. Written when manufacturing was undergoing rapid development and radical change, the book represents an original contribution to British economics. Also the first book on operations research, discussing topics like 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. Hyman Charles Babbage, p. 103; Kress C. 3013; Norman 92; Van Sinderen 1980, no. 45. Origins of Cyberspace 42.