Ada Lovelace, the daughter of poet Lord Byron, was an English mathematician, who is often referred to as “the first computer programmer” for writing an algorithm for a computing machine in the mid-1800s.
Ada, born Augusta Ada Byron on December 10, 1815. Unusually Ada was taught mathematics and science as a youngster and displayed a real talent for numbers and language. She was taught by William Frend, a social reformer; William King, the family’s doctor; and Mary Somerville, a Scottish astronomer and mathematician. Mary Somerville was in fact one of the first women to be admitted into the Royal Astronomical Society.
Ada met Charles Babbage when in her late teens, Babbage being a renowned mathematician and inventor. She was later asked to translate an article on Babbage’s analytical engine. Not only did Ada translate it from French, but also added her own thoughts on the machine. Her work was published in 1843. In her article she commented about how codes could be developed for the device to handle letters, symbols and numbers. She also developed a method for the engine to repeat instructions, looping as it is known now in computing. Lovelace also suggested other forward-thinking ideas in the article. For her work, Lovelace is often considered to be the first computer programmer.
Ada died on November 27th, 2051 and was buried with her father in the cemetry at the Church of St. Mary Magdalene in Hucknall.
We all owe her a great debt, and she was an outstanding talent of her time, although not recognised as such whilst she was alive. We should raise a glass to Ada, on her birthday and say a big thankyou.
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