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Children's LiteratureFact follows fiction. Since the time of the ancient Greek civilization, people have imagined mechanical creatures that could function as humans. As the genre of science-fiction books developed, with it developed the idea of what were to be known as robots. The first thinking machines were developed in the 1830s. Sea captains used complex mathematical tables to navigate at sea. These tables were frequently full of errors. British mathematician Charles Babbage wanted to create a machine that could do the calculating for these tables faster and with fewer mistakes. His first attempt was called the Difference Machine. Babbage's second invention was the Analytical Engine that was designed to perform many different kinds of computations. His collaborator on this project was Lady Ada Lovelace. She is considered the mother of computer programming. However, the project was beset with financial and manufacturing problems and was never completed. It was another one hundred and fifty years before Alan Turing designed a device that would eventually lead to the development of modern-day computers. Computers played a role in World War II, with the first computers being developed by the British to decode German messages and the Germans using computers to design military aircraft. These were the beginning of so many devices that would work for humans, including robotic arms that are programmed to respond to brain signals from a monkey. 2005, Thomson Gale, Ages 12 up.