Ada Lovelace–nicknamed Princess of Parallelograms by her mother–was a computing pioneer who lived from 1815 – 1852. She earned that designation primarily through her work with Charles Babbage’s analytical engine.
Though there is some dispute about the extent of her contributions, consensus opinion indicates that she was responsible for the publishing of the first computer programs (perhaps even writing some of them herself) and was the first person to recognize the overwhelming potential of Babbage’s invention: “a machine capable of expressing entities other than quantities”, meaning that the machine could be used for more than simple calculations.
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Ada Lovelace Quotes
The Analytical Engine might act upon other things besides number, were objects found whose mutual fundamental relations could be expressed by those of the abstract science of operations, and which should be also susceptible of adaptations to the action of the operating notation and mechanism of the engine…Supposing, for instance, that the fundamental relations of pitched sounds in the science of harmony and of musical composition were susceptible of such expression and adaptations, the engine might compose elaborate and scientific pieces of music of any degree of complexity or extent.
As quoted by Menabrea, Luigi (1842). Sketch of the Analytical Engine invented by Charles Babbage Esq.. Scientific Memoirs (Richard Taylor): 694.
Ada Lovelace Achievements List
- Translated an article about Babbage’s Analytical Engine from French to English and added her own notes which greatly increased (approximately double) the length
- Designed a method for programming the Analytical Engine using punch cards (some consider the first computer program ever), deriving her inspiration from mechanical looms
Ada Lovelace Facts
- Many consider her to be the first computer programmer.
- She is the daughter of Lord Byron, a famous poet; however, she never met her father who died when was 8 years old.
- It was not common for women to engage in science and math at the time Ada lived, which makes it even more interesting that she her mother, who was a mathematician herself, influenced and encouraged Ada’s STEM pursuits.
- Charles Babbage referred to her way of thinking as “poetical science”; another term that could be applied to her is a philosopher scientist. She was interested in examining the intersection of technology and society.
- As a child, she studied birds in order to design a flying machine.
- Her name is not actually Ada Lovelace; it is instead Ada King, Countess of Lovelace.
- She had several nicknames and/or monikers: Princess of Parallelograms (by her mother), Enchantress of Numbers (by Charles Babbage), and Lady Fairy (her pen name in letters to Charles Babbage).
- She has a computer language named after her (called Ada).
- The second week of October is Ada Lovelace Day.