Posted on 7:27 PM, under
December 10, 1815 - November 27, 1852
-mathematician, computer pioneer
Ada Augusta Byron was the only legitimate child of the Romantic poet, George Gordon, Lord Byron. Her mother was Anne Isabella Milbanke who took the baby at one month old away from her father's home. Ada Augusta Byron never saw her father again; he died when she was eight.
Ada Lovelace's mother, who had studied mathematics herself, decided that her daughter would be spared the father's eccentricities by studying more logical subjects like math and science, rather than literature or poetry. Young Ada Lovelace showed a genius for math from an early age. Her tutors included William Frend, William King and Mary Somerville. She also learned music, drawing and languages, and became fluent in French.
Ada Lovelace met Charles Babbage in 1833, and became interested in a model he had constructed of a mechanical device to compute values of quadratic functions, the Difference Engine. She also studied his ideas on another machine, the Analytical Engine, which would use punched cards to "read" instructions and data for solving mathematical problems.
Babbage also became Lovelace's mentor, and helped Ada Lovelace begin mathematical studies with Augustus de Moyan in 1840 at the University of London.
Babbage himself never wrote about his own inventions, but in 1842, an Italian engineer Manabrea (later Italy's prime minister) described Babbage's Analytical Engine in an article published in French.
Augusta Lovelace was asked to translate this article into English for a British scientific journal. She added many notes of her own to the translation, since she was familiar with Babbage's work. Her additions showed how Babbage's Analytical Engine would work, and gave a set of instructions for using the Engine for calculating Bernoulli numbers. She published the translation and notes under the initials "A.A.L," concealing her identity as did many women who published before women were more accepted as intellectual equals.
Augusta Ada Byron married a William King (though not the same William King who had been her tutor) in 1835. In 1838 her husband became the first Earl of Lovelace, and Ada became countess of Lovelace. They had three children.
Ada Lovelace unknowingly developed an addiction to prescribed drugs including laudanum, opium and morphine, and displayed classic mood swings and withdrawal symptoms. She took up gambling and lost most of her fortune. She was suspected of an affair with a gambling comrade.
In 1852, Ada Lovelace died of uterine cancer. She was buried next to her famous father.
More than a hundred years after her death, in 1953, Ada Lovelace's notes on Babbage's Analytical Engine were republished after having been forgotten. The engine was now recognized as a model for a computer, and Ada Lovelace's notes as a description of a computer and software.
In 1980, the U.S. Department of Defense settled on the name "Ada" for a new standardized computer language, named in honor of Ada Lovelace.
“I will publish a blog post on Tuesday 24th March about a woman in technology whom I admire but only if 1,000 other people will do the same.”
— Suw Charman-Anderson (contact)
Deadline to sign up by: 24th March 2009
Ada Lovelace Day is an international day of blogging to draw attention to women excelling in technology. Women’s contributions often go unacknowledged, their innovations seldom mentioned, their faces rarely recognised. We want you to tell the world about these unsung heroines. Whatever she does, whether she is a sysadmin or a tech entrepreneur, a programmer or a designer, developing software or hardware, a tech journalist or a tech consultant, we want to celebrate her achievements.
It doesn’t matter how new or old your blog is, what gender you are, what language you blog in, or what you normally blog about - everyone is invited to take part. All you need to do is sign up to this pledge and then publish your blog post any time on Tuesday 24th March 2009. If you’re going to be away that day, feel free to write your post in advance and set your blogging system to publish it that day.
more about the pledge “AdaLovelaceDay”
Ada Lovelace Profile
Top 10 Early Female Mathematicians
Women and Computers
More About Ada Lovelace
Ada Lovelace Profile
on Macedonian about Ada Lovelace
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