It’s Ada Lovelace day, who was she and why is there a day named after her? We take a look at the woman who published the first-ever algorithm and who is often hailed as one of the world’s first computer programmers.
Augusta Ada King was born 10 December 1815 and was the daughter of Lord Byron who had been expecting to have a ‘glorious boy’ and was very disappointed when his wife Lady Byron gave birth to a girl. At just five-weeks old Ada’s parents separated, and just a few weeks later the separation was made permanent when Lord Byron left England never to return.
Sadly, for Ada the relationship she had with her mother was a distant one, with records showing that in letters to her friends, Lady Byron often referred to Ada as ‘it’ rather than a daughter. Ada was a sickly child, but even through her illness, she continued with her education. She was taught mathematics at an early age and became good friends with one of her tutors Mary Somerville – the noted researcher and scientific author.
In 1835, Ada married William the 8th Baron King to become Lady King and went on to have three children. It was during this period that her husband was made Earl of Lovelace due to Ada being a descendant of the extinct line of Barons Lovelace. Ada became Countess Lovelace.
Throughout Ada’s life, she was interested in scientific developments and through Mary Somerville, she was first introduced to Charles Babbage. A few years later Babbage invited Ada to see the prototype of his Difference Engine. The two became friends and Babbage would often correspond with her regarding his work.
In 1842-43, Ada translated an Italian article about Babbage’s second machine the Analytical Engine. It was whilst doing this that Ada added her own notes which ended up being three times longer than the actual article. Based on these notes Ada is now widely considered to be the first computer programmer and her methods are recognised as the world’s first computer programme.
In 1953, more than a century after her death, Ada’s notes on the Analytical Engine were republished. The Engine was recognised as an early model for a computer and Ada’s notes the first description of a computer and software.
Ada Lovelace passed away on 27th November 1852 and will always be remembered as a pioneer and a visionary for the computer age.