Happy Ada Lovelace Day! In honor of this History Heroine, here’s a bit about her:
Ada Lovelace, (10 December 1815 – 27 November 1852) born Augusta Ada Byron, was the only legitimate child of Anne Isabella Byron and her husband the poet Lord Byron. Her mother was very bitter towards Byron and what she perceived as the “madness” of poets, and not only actively encouraged Ada’s interest in math, science and the scientific fads of the day (including phrenology and mesmerism) but kept watch over her from a distance through friends to make sure Ada herself didn’t develop the same kind of “madness.” Ada did not enjoy the constant supervision and called her mothers’ friends the “Furies.”
Ada was a regular at Court events and had a fondness for dancing. She was considered charming by most who came across her, although her father’s legacy meant she also had some significant detractors. At the age of eighteen she met the polymath Charles Babbage at a party in his home. Babbage was impressed with her intellect, and the two would correspond for the rest of her life. He called her the Enchantress of Numbers, and she contributed significantly to his Analytical Engine project. Her work on the project is now widely considered to be the first computer program and Ada herself the first computer programmer. This was just one of her many interests, however, and she also in her lifetime undertook several other projects, including a mathematical model of how the brain produces feelings and sensation - a “calculus of the nervous system.” This work was never completed.
Ada’s life was also not without scandal. She was linked to rumors of several different affairs and a deep interest in gambling which was fed by her love of numbers and systems modeling. She formed her own gambling syndicate in order to try and create a model for successful bets. This unfortunately ended badly in blackmail and debt, although did not affect her love of numbers. She died young of uterine cancer at the age of thirty-six before many of her projects could come to fruition.
More about Ada Lovelace >
Hark, a vagrant’s Young Ada Lovelace >