Ada Lovelace (1815 – 1852)

Augusta Ada King (formerly Byron and later to be Ada Lovelace) wrote the first computer program for Babbage’s Analytical Engine.

Her algorithm-based program was intended to calculate Bernoulli numbers, and would have worked if the machine had ever been built. Amazingly, this gem was tucked away in the notes she wrote for a translation she did of an Italian mathematician’s work.

So it is that the eventual Countess of Lovelace is widely heralded as the world’s first computer programmer. Ada also developed a vision on the capability of computers to go beyond mere calculating or number-crunching while others, including Babbage himself, focused only on those capabilities.

Ada’s mind-set of “poetical science” led her to ask basic questions about the Analytical Engine (as shown in her notes) examining how individuals and society relate to technology as a collaborative tool.

Fun facts:

  • Her image can be seen on the Microsoft product authenticity hologram stickers.
  • The U.S. Department of Defense Military Standard for Ada (MIL-STD-1815) was assigned a number to commemorate the year of her birth.

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