As it is International Women’s Day, we will look at this incredible pioneer who was an algorithm enchantress and unique in that she laid the groundwork for a revolutionary machine that was still a century away from being completed: the computer!
Ada Lovelace was born to English nobility on the 10th December, 1815, in London, England. From an early age, Lovelace always had a fascination with mathematics. Her educational and social status brought her into contact with many scientists including Andrew Crosse, Sir David Brewster, and Michael Faraday, as well as author Charles Dickens, which she used to further her education. Ada described her approach to maths as “poetical science” and herself as an “Analyst”
When she was a teenager, her talents in mathematics led her to a long working relationship and friendship with fellow British mathematician Charles Babbage. They first met in 1833 and, one decade later, Lovelace was put to work by Babbage by documenting his never-to-be-realized ‘computer’: the Analytical Engine. Starting with a document written by Luigi Menabrea, an Italian mathematician, Lovelace added extensive notes to the English translation, including the world’s first computer algorithm.
Though the groundwork had been set by Babbage & Lovelace, unfortunately, neither were successful in getting the funding to build the Analytical Machine. Despite of this, the extensive notes that were written by Lovelace were extremely important to the first computers that would arrive one century later. She was also the first to envision the capabilities of computers to go beyond mere calculating, something that not even her colleagues, Babbage included, could foresee.
Regardless, she is often recognized as the first computer programmer in history and knew the potential of computers long before it ever came to existence!