Who was Ada Lovelace?
Ada Lovelace Day was created to celebrate one of the first computer programmers.
Ada Lovelace was an English mathematician and writer, who was known for her role in early computer science. It is thought that Lovelace was the first person to recognise that a computer could have applications beyond calculation and is believed to have published the first algorithm intended to be carried out by such a machine. She was working alongside the scientist Charles Babbage on his proposed mechanical general-purpose computer, the Analytical Engine and was the daughter of the poet Lord Byron, Augusta Ada Byron, was brought up by her mother, Annabella after he passed.
Fearing that Ada would inherit her father’s volatile ‘poetic’ temperament, her mother raised her under a strict regimen of science, logic, and mathematics. Ada herself from childhood had a fascination with machines– designing fanciful boats and steam flying machines, and poring over the diagrams of the new inventions of the Industrial Revolution that filled the scientific magazines of the time.
In 1833, Ada Lovelace was introduced to Charles Babbage whom she helped to develop a device called The Analytical Engine; an early predecessor of the modern computer. Lovelace and Babbage worked together closely for many years in order to refine the Engine.
Ada found relative fame in 1842 when she expanded on an article by an Italian mathematician, in which she elaborated on the use of machines through the manipulation of symbols.
Although Babbage had sketched out programs before, Lovelace’s were the most elaborate and complete, and the first to be published; so she is often referred to as “the first computer programmer”.
Ada Lovelace died of cancer at the age of 36 a few short years after the publication of “Sketch of the Analytical Engine, with Notes from the Translator”. The Analytical Engine remained a vision for many but until Ada’s notes inspired Alan Turing to work on the first modern computers in the 1940s.
Her passion and vision for technology have made her a powerful symbol for women in the modern world of technology.
An international celebration of the achievements of women, Ada Lovelace Day (ALD) was founded in 2009 by Suw Charman-Anderson, and aims to increase the profile of women in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).
In doing so, it hopes to create new role models to encourage more girls into STEM careers, and to support women already working in those fields.
Ada Lovelace Day is held every year on the second Tuesday of October and is organised by The Finding Ada Network, with a mission to inspire and motive more women in STEM.