Ada Lovelace (1815-1852)
Lovelace’s mother, who had studied mathematics, devoted her daughter to the study of math and science, rather than literature or poetry (which Lovelace’s eccentric father, Lord Byron, was well-versed in). Lovelace also learned music and French.
In 1828, Lovelace produced a design for a flying machine. In 1833, at the age of 17, Lovelace met Charles Babbage who, among many things, was a mathematician, a mechanical engineer and professor at Cambridge. Lovelace was interested in Babbage’s invention, known as the Difference Engine then, later, she studied his Analytical Engine. He eventually became her mentor and helped Lovelace enroll in the University of London to study mathematics.
Since Babbage never wrote about his own inventions, in 1842 an Italian engineer, Luigi Menabrea, gave a description of Babbage’s Analytical Engine in an article published in French. Lovelace was asked to translate this article into English for a British scientific journal. She added her own notes to the translation, rightly showing the Engine as a general-purpose computer. She wrote the Engine was for
“…developping [sic] and tabulating any function whatever… the engine [is] the material expression of any indefinite function of any degree of generality and complexity.”
Her notes showed how the Analytical Engine would work and also gave a set of explicit instructions for using the Engine for calculating Bernoulli numbers. She also wrote something Babbage did not consider, that
“…the Engine might compose elaborate and scientific pieces of music of any degree of complexity or extent.”
The translation was published under “A.A.L” in order to conceal Lovelace’s identity as a woman.
Lovelace married in 1835, had three children and became addicted to prescribed drugs (laudanum, opium and morphine), and gambling. In 1852, Lovelace died of uterine cancer.
In 1953, Lovelace’s notes on Babbage’s Analytical Engine were published. The Engine is recognized as the model for a computer and Lovelace’s notes as for the first written computer program. A programming language called “Ada” was established in the 1970s to honor Lovelace, who is known today as “the first programmer.” (x | x | x)
SEVEN DAYS. I’M VERY SCARED NOW. WHY AM I DOING THIS?
Latest blog post about my trek…it’s next Wednesday, and I’m basically terrified. Cake and pizza and my eternal love for anyone who sponsors me even the slightest amount <3 <3 <3 (Go on, it’s a Cumberbatch-approved charity :P)
Cumberbitches! Donate to Claire’s Iceland Trek for Maggie’s Cancer Centers if you haven’t already. She’s a peach.