Ada Lovelace

Ada Lovelace was born in London, England on December 10, 1815. She was the daughter of Lord Byron, although she never met him. She was tutored and began to show her talents in math at a young age when she created a design for a flying machine. Her real works did not start, however, until she met Charles Babbage (her future partner) who was known as the inventor of the Difference Engine, a mechanical device to compute values of quadratic functions. She was also interested in his ideas of a machine called the Analytical Engine which would use punched cards to “read” data to solve a mathematical equation. Luigi Menabrea, an Italian engineer, published an article in French which described the Analytical Engine. Ada translated the article into English for a British scientific journal. Since she was familiar with the machine herself, she added many additional notes in the translation which explained how the machine would work.

There is some debate about the importance of Ada’s contributions because her collaborator, Babbage, did most of the inventing while she was known for taking the notes. Later, she became well known when her “Notes from the Translator” were discovered and what she wrote predicted future achievements that are now visionary. She was the first to express the potential of computers outside of mathematics. Her notes also became an important document for Alan Turing’s work on the first modern computers, and her passion and vision for technology encouraged modern women interested in technology. The notes she left indicate she may have seen further than Babbage.

Ada married William King, the Earl of Lovelace and had three kids. However, as far as setbacks go, she postponed her mathematical studies for marriage and motherhood and developed an addiction to drugs that caused mood swings and withdrawal symptoms. She also lost most of her fortune gambling and was suspected of an affair with a gambler. Despite these troubles, she lived her whole life without knowing her father and died of uterine cancer at a young age.

http://www.sdsc.edu/ScienceWomen/lovelace.html

http://www.computerhistory.org/babbage/adalovelace/

http://womenshistory.about.com/cs/sciencemath1/a/bio_lovelace.htm

http://findingada.com/about/who-was-ada/

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