Women in Technology: Ada Lovelace

We owe a lot to a plethora of people who worked from the dawn of time up until today, as we enjoy a lifestyle which is rather easy and full of technology and gadgets. Scientists are responsible for most of the things that we enjoy today and there are many of them who have contributed in countless ways.

Today, our topic will be Ada Lovelace, a woman scientist, notably the creator of the world’s first computer. Computers existed in the 19th century, at least as a very rudimentary product compared to today’s computers.

Here is how Ada Lovelace helped change the world.

Who is Ada Lovelace?

Ada Lovelace, also known as Augusta Ada, Countess of Lovelace, was born under the name of Ada Byron, daughter of famous poet George Byron and Anne Isabella Byron. She was born in 1815. Like her mother, she took an interest in mathematics and despite frequently being ill as a child, she pursued her studies vigorously. 

In 1835, she married William King and in 1838 got the title of Countess of Lovelace. She was always interested in science and given her studies as a child, she was completely devoted to it in her later life. Everything changed when she met Charles Babbage.

Ada Lovelace’s Major Breakthrough

Charles Babbage was working on something called The Analytical Engine, a general purpose mechanical computer, proposed by Charles to replace his difference engine. She met Babbage in 1833 when she had seen the difference engine and Babbage described her as the Enchantress of Numbers. Between 1842 and 1843, she started translating a piece from Luigi Menabrea, an Italian mathematician and general, on Babbage’s Analytical Engine. While the translation itself is not that interesting, the notes that Lovelace left are very much interesting. She had notes labeled from A to G and in these notes, she described the world’s first algorithm, upon which all modern computing is based.

In the note G she describes an algorithm which was supposed to be used with the Analytical Engine to do work on the Bernoulli numbers. 

Most people consider this to be the first algorithm and by virtue of that, Ada Lovelace the first programmer. 

Ada in Today’s Culture

Most people regard her as the first programmer, though there are some who criticize her work and describe her as not having enough knowledge to write an actual algorithm, merely copying work that was previously done by Babbage. 

She is present in multiple popular shows and movies, not to mention that she has been honored multiple times, by various organizations, both in the physical world and on the internet. 

Women have been driving technological change for centuries and Ada Lovelace was one of the early pioneers in mathematics and especially computing, having written the first algorithm.