Tech Women: Meet Ada Lovelace, the first computer programmer
Who could anticipate that a woman would write the world’s first machine algorithm for an early computing machine in the mid-nineteenth century? Ada Lovelace from United Kingdom thought differently. She debunked myths surrounding women and their aptitude in science and became the world’s first computer programmer. Besides this, she was also a brilliant mathematician.
Her father Lord Byron was an eminent poet while her mother Anne Isabelle Milbanke was a mathematician. But her parents separated two months after her birth.
A child prodigy
Ada could build intricate model boats dexterously at a young age of 8. At the age of 13, she had produced a design for machine that could fly. Besides this, she showed great interest in music and made relentless efforts to learn playing a variety of musical instruments.
She studied Maths and Science under the tutelage of William Frend who was a social reformer. Her first professor of Mathematics at the University of London assisted her in her advanced studies.
- She worked along with Charles Babbage and invented a computer program that she called “The plan”, which later became known as ‘The Analytical Engine of 1843’.
- She also translated one of Charles Babbage’s Paper in English on his request.
- Ada Lovelace’s notes were labelled alphabetically from A to G. In note G, she describes an algorithm for the Analytical Engine to compute Bernoulli numbers.
- The first published algorithm ever specifically tailored for implementation on a computer is by her.
- Ada Lovelace’s notes on Babbage’s Analytical Engine were found and republished in 1953 after her death. The engine has gained the recognition of an early model for a computer and her notes as a description of a computer and software.
Death and Legacy
Lovelace succumbed to uterine cancer at a young age of 36 but her gigantic contributions in science and engineering continue to be celebrated. Infact, October 13 is observed as Ada Lovelace Day with an objective to acknowledge more women in STEM. A software language developed in 1979 by the U.S Department of Defense was named Ada to honour her achievements. In 2017, a Google Doodle also commemorated her on International Women’s Day.