Ada Lovelace – The first computer programmer

Ada Lovelace and her legacy can be seen in everything from modern computing to the skyrocketing popularity of women in the tech movement. But who was she?

Ada was the only child of the English poet Lord Byron and Lady Byron. She was officially a countess, The Hon. Augusta Ada Byron, Countess of Lovelace. Born 10 December 1815 in London, England. She is often cited to be the first computer programmer and a prophet of the computer age. Back in c.1843, in some notes she had made, she described a computer and software.

How did she become interested in mathematics and science?

In 1833 Ada Lovelace met the mathematician Charles Babbage, known as the father of the computer, who had designed a calculating machine called the Difference Engine, it was through him Lovelace began studying advanced mathematics with a University of London professor Augustus de Morgan. Lovelace was fascinated by Babbage’s ideas, and he in turn would come to refer to Ada as the ‘Enchantress of Numbers’.

Her contributions

Ada wrote the world’s first machine algorithm for an early computing machine that existed only on paper. Of course, someone always had to be the first, but what makes her story even more remarkable is the fact that Lovelace was a woman, and this was in the 1840s. At the time women could hardly access basic education, let alone a scientific one, making her story inspiring, hopeful and one every woman should know about.

How has her work impacted us today?

Her contributions to mathematics and science became so significant, that they would echo through the ages and help shape science and technology for centuries to come. In 1842 Ada began transcribing an Italian peer’s work on Babbage’s Analytical Engine and added her own notes which ended up being three times the length of the original paper. Within these notes is a method for calculating a sequence of rational numbers, the Bernoulli numbers, using the Analytical Engine. This algorithm, barely changed, is still used today for calculating sequence.

Sadly, a fully working prototype of the Analytical Engine would never come to fruition in Babbage’s lifetime and it would be more than a century after her death that Ada’s notes would be recognized for what they are, the first true computer program to ever be formally described.No doubt as one of the founders of modern computing, Ada has had an enormous impact on how we use technology today. As a manufacturer within the Data centre, IT and security sectors, we value Ada’s role in tech history immensely and would like to thank her for her life’s work.

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