We like to too think that computers are a 20th century invention, but nearly 200 years ago Charles Babbage designed the Analytical Engine which, if built, would have been the first programmable computing machine. With the potential of 20k of memory (much more than my first computer, a Commodore VIC-20), this punch card-driven, steam-powered beast could have launched the computer revolution a 100 years earlier, had it actually been built.
Well, at long last, it finally can be. There's a project underway to build this historic device. It's not a cheap endeavor, but if you are a geek, the value of building and seeing in action the first computer ever designed is just too much to pass up. If you agree, please consider making a $10 donation via Pledge Bank to get the project kicked off.
In the meantime, you might want to read more about the analytical engine to see what this is all about. I'd also encourage you to listen to TWIT #269, which features a discussion with John Graham-Cumming about the project.