Leonardo Torres y Quevedo

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Leonardo Torres y Quevedo (December 28, 1852 - December 18, 1936) was a Spanish engineer, mathematician, and inventor.

Torres y Quevedo was born in Santa Cruz de Iguña, Molledo (Cantabria), Spain. His family usually lived in Bilbao, where his father was an engineer for the railway, the rest of the time they were in Cantabria. He went to High School in Bilbao and spent two more years studying in Paris. In 1870 his father was sent by the rail company to Madrid and took his family with him. That same year Leonardo began his studies in the "Official School of Roads, Bridges and Harbors Engineering" until 1873. He then volunteered for the army to help in the defense of Bilbao which was under siege by the carlista army in the third carlista war. He returned to Madrid and graduated in 1876, reaching number 4 in the list of best qualifications .

He began his career in the rail company where his father worked. He was soon taking trips around Europe to learn about scientific and technical advances, mainly in the developing subject of electricity. After his return to Spain he moved to Santander, where he financed his own research work. In 1886 he got married. In 1893 he published his first research article.

In 1899 he moved to Madrid and became involved in the cultural life of the city. From his works in these years in the Ateneo, in 1901 he became director of the new Laboratory of Applied Mechanics, later called Automatics. The Laboratory created scientific instruments. That year he joined the Academy of Natural Physics and Exact Sciences.

He wrote books on mathematics, designed the cable car at Niagara Falls, pioneered remote control of machines via radio, designed and built a series of airships, and invented mechanical analogue computers including one which could play the chess endgame of king & rook against king.

In 1910 he became the President of Royal Academy of Exact Sciences in Madrid. His "Ensayos sobre automática" describes a proposed electromechanical implementation of Babbage's Analytical Engine.

Torres had eight children and died in Madrid on December 18, 1936.

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