Week 48 – Ada Lovelace

This week, our human being of #SiPgoes52 is no one else than Ada Lovelace. Daughter of Lord Byron (a key figure of Romanticism and one of the first modern celebrities), she is known as the first programmer… A century before the construction of the first computer.

Raised by her mother who encouraged her to pursue her interest in mathematics, she got into contact with scientists and intellectuals from the 19th Century including Faraday and Dickens. Because of her keen mathematical sense, she collaborated closely with Charles Babbage who had invented a machine similar in essence to modern computers.

Ada met Babbage in 1833 through her friend Mary Somerville, another famous 19th-century female scientist who now appears on Scottish currency. She became fascinated by a mechanical calculator Babbage had invented: the Difference Engine. From there she continued working closely with him.

It’s later, in 1842-43, she worked on translating an article from an Italian mathematician about Babbage’s newest machine: the Analytical Engine. Because it was so complex to explain how the machine work, Ada added many notes to the translation (3 times longer than the translated article!). One of these notes includes an algorithm, the first to be published, which could have run on the Analytical Engine if it had been built.

As someone who tries to do magic with numbers for a living, I had to have my Elves pay tribute to Ada Lovelace, “The Enchantress of Numbers”.

Aira, the “Enchantress of Number of Elvendale”, geeking out in the woods.
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Tomasz Lasek
7 months ago

Thanks for this article Maëlick!
Of course You meant 1833 etc. ;)
I recommend You a book called A Difference Engine by W. Gibson and B. Sterling :) it’s one of the first steampunk books, if not the first. Ada appears there.

Tomasz Lasek
7 months ago
Reply to  Maëlick

You’re welcome :)
I hope You’ll enjoy the book if You decide to read it :)