Fascinating facts about Ada
of an early computer, the Analytical Engine in 1843.
AT A GLANCE:
her life was short, she only lived 36 years, Augusta Ada Lovelace
anticipated by more than a century most of what we think is brand-new
computing. Her work with Charles Babbage and his Calculating Engines
produced what she called "the plan". In hindsight what Ada had proposed
was a program stored on punch cards for use on an early computer, The
Analytical Engine in 1843
DID YOU KNOW?
Augusta Ada Lovelace
||First to invent. First
to patent. First practical. Entrepreneur.
10, 1815 in London, England
27, 1852 in London, England
programming in 1843
computer program in punched cards
science, a sequence of instructions that a computer can interpret
and execute; "the program required several hundred lines of code"
1815 born Augusta Ada Byron on December
10, 1815 in London, England
1829 Ada gets the measles and becomes an invalid for several years
1832 Ada is tutored by Mary Somerville in mathematics.and science
1833 Ada meets Charles Babbage and begins study and documentation of his calculating
1835 Ada marries William King on July 8 to become Ada King. They have
three children together
1838 William and Ada King become Earl and Countess of Lovelace (June 30)
1842 "Sketch of the Analytical Engine" by Luigi F. Menabrea,
1843 Luigi F. Menabrea paper is translated by Augusta Ada Lovelace and
expands three fold
In the "Notes", Ada described how the Analytical Engine could be
1844 Ada begins to have health problems and can not continue her
1852 by January Ada was wracked with pain, her health problems are
diagnosed as cancer
1852 Ada died on November
27, 1852 in London
1979 U,S, Dept.of Defense named its universal computer programming language,
"ADA", after her.
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Although her life was
short, she only lived 36 years, Augusta Ada Lovelace anticipated by more
than a century most of what we think is brand-new computing. Her work with
Charles Babbage and his Calculating Engines produced what she called "the
plan". In hindsight what Ada had proposed was a program stored on punch
cards for use on an early computer, The Analytical Engine in 1843
Ada Byron Lovelace was a British mathematician and musician, born in London
in 1815. Her father was the British poet, Lord Byron. Her mother, Annabella
Milbanke, encouraged her to study mathematics. Ada married Lord William
King, Earl of Lovelace, and had three children. She died of cancer in 1852
at the age of 36.
Ada Lovelace is best known as the first computer programmer. She wrote about
Charles Babbage's "Analytical Engine" with such clarity and insight that her
work became the premier text explaining the process now known as computer
Lord George Gordon Byron and Annabella Milbanke Noel were married in 1815.
She was the self-proclaimed "Princess of Parallelograms" and he was a
popular poet. When his mood swings became too much for her to handle, Annabella left her husband. The union produced one child, Byron's only
legitimate one, Augusta Ada Byron was born December 10, 1815.
On 25 April 1816 Lord Byron went abroad and Ada never
saw her father again. Lord Byron never returned to England and died in
Greece when Ada was eight years old. Lady Byron was given sole custody of
her daughter Ada, who was declared a Ward in Chancery in April 1817, and she
tried to do everything possible in bring up her child to ensure that she
would not become a poet like her father.
Lady Byron considered mathematics a
good subject for training the mind to ensure that her daughter took a
disciplined approach. Music, Lady Byron believed, was a topic that provided
a girl with the right social skills so this was also emphasised in Ada's
education. However although Lady Byron devoted much energy to organise Ada's
upbringing she herself seems to have spent very little time with her.
A number of tutors were employed, often for only
a short period, to direct Ada's education. At age about six she had a Miss
Lamont as a tutor and, despite her mother's emphasis on mathematics, Ada's
favourite subject was geography while arithmetic she only studied
reluctantly in order to please her mother. On discovering that Ada preferred
geography to arithmetic, Lady Byron insisted that one of Ada's geography
lessons be replaced by an arithmetic lesson and shortly after this Miss
Lamont was replaced as Ada's tutor.
Ada's mathematical education was undertaken by a number of private tutors.
William Frend, who had tutored Lady Byron in mathematics, was involved in
Ada's mathematical education but by this time he was an old man who had not
kept pace with mathematical developments. Dr William King was also engaged
as a tutor to Ada in 1829 but his interest in mathematics was not very deep
and he confessed that he had studied mathematics by reading it rather than
by doing it.
Some members of the family feared that Lady
Byron was insisting that her daughter be driven too hard. Lady Byron ignored
the family concerns and kept a constant pressure on her daughter to work
hard and long at her lessons. Some rewards were offered but pressure was
usually applied by giving Ada punishments like solitary confinement, making
her lie motionless, and demanding that she write apologies..
Few can have done more to mould
the character of their child than Lady Byron did! The young Ada, however,
had long suffered some health problems and in 1829 contracted a mysterious illness (possibly of hysterical
or psychosomatic origin) and was unable to walk for almost three years.
During this time, she pursued her studies with tutors. She excelled at
mathematics and became an accomplished musician and linguist.
The one person young Ada most longed to meet was Mary Sommerville, a
mathematician who had just published The Mechanism of the Heavens, a book on
mathematical astronomy. Fortunately, in 1932 the two became friends. It was Mrs.
Sommerville who arranged for Ada to meet Lord William King, who later became
Ada's husband. For Ada, Mrs. Sommerville was a role model -a woman who was
also a mathematician!. Though Mrs. Somerville encouraged Ada in her
mathematical studies, she also attempted to put mathematics and technology
into an appropriate human context.
It was at a dinner party at Mrs. Somerville's that Ada heard in November, 1834,
Babbage's ideas for a new calculating engine, the Analytical Engine. He
conjectured: what if a calculating engine could not only foresee but could
act on that foresight. Ada was touched by the "universality of his ideas".
By observing what Babbage had designed and by asking him
questions, she soon became an expert on the inventor's work. When Babbage
changed his plans and began to design his analytical engine, Lovelace saw
tremendous potential in the machine. She understood it better than most
other people older and more experienced than she. Beautiful, charming,
temperamental, an aristocratic hostess, mathematicians of the time thought
her a magnificent addition to their number.
Ada King became Countess of Lovelace when her husband William King, whom she
married on July 8, 1835, was created an Earl in 1838. They had three
children; Byron born May 12,1836, Annabella born September 22, 1837 and
Ralph Gordon born July 2, 1839.
Babbage worked on plans for this new engine and
reported on the developments at a seminar in Turin, Italy in the autumn of
1841. An Italian, Luigi F. Menabrea, wrote a summary of what Babbage
described and published an article written in French about the development.
Ada, in 1843, translated Menabrea's article.
When she showed Babbage her translation he suggested that she add her own
notes, which turned out to be three times the length of the original
article. Letters between Babbage and Ada flew back and forth filled with
fact and fantasy. In her article, published in 1843, Lady Lovelace's
prescient comments included her predictions that such a machine might be
used to compose complex music, to produce graphics, and would be used for
both practical and scientific use. She added footnotes and explanatory sections which greatly enhanced the
original. By the time she was finished, the paper was three times as long as
Menabrea's, and much more useful.
Babbage was very pleased. He published and distributed Lovelace's work,
modestly signed with only her initials "A.A.L." Although this paper was the
summit of her career, she felt it was unbecoming for a woman of her social
class to publish anything so "unfeminine." It was nearly 30 years before the
identity of "A.A.L." was commonly known.
When inspired Ada could be very focused and a
mathematical taskmaster. Ada suggested to Babbage writing a plan for how
the engine might calculate Bernoulli numbers. This plan, is now regarded as
the first "computer program." Ada Lovelace figures in the history of the Calculating Engines as
Babbage's interpretress, his `fairy lady'. As such her achievement was
Lovelace's Notes were published in Richard Taylor's Scientific Memoirs
Volume 3 in 1843 with the author's name given as AAL. This was the high
point of her achievements and for a while she basked in the admiration that
she received from her friends who knew who AAL was, but already these
friends were showing concern about her health. By the end of the year she
was taking several medicines for different health problems which troubled
By January 1852 Lovelace was wracked with pain, as the cancer which
presumably had been a major cause of her health problems for some time,
became more acute. Her mind however remained as sharp as ever.
In 1852, when only 37 years of age, Ada died of cancer. She was buried, at her request, beside Lord Byron in the Byron family
Togeather Charles Babbage and Ada Lovelace laid some of
the early conceptual and technical groundwork for high technology by helping develop an
early computer. The technology of their time was not capable of
translating their ideas into practical use, but the Analytical Engine had
many features of the modern computer. It could read data from a deck of
punched cards, store data, and perform arithmetic operations.
The computer language, ADA, was commissioned in 1979 by the
United States Department of Defense. Based on the language PASCAL, ADA is a
general-purpose language designed to be readable and easily maintained. It
is efficient for machines, yet easy to use. It was intended to become a
standard language to replace the many specialized computer languages then in
Charles Babbage Biography
from The Great Idea Finder
History of Computing
from The Great Idea Finder
Women Inventors, A Class Act
from The Great Idea Finder
ON THE BOOKSHELF:
the Enchantress of Numbers
by Betty A. Toole (Editor), Ada King Lovelace / Hardcover - 439 pages (March 1998) /
A very pleasant biography in an original format, allowing for a good understanding of the
main character. A Selection from the Letters of Lord Byron's Daughter and Her Description
of the First Computer
of Invention: From the Bra to the Bomb: Forgotten Women and Their Unforgettable Ideas
by Ethlie Ann Vare, Greg Ptacek / Hardcover:256 pages / William Morrow
& Co; (1988)
Women inventors, both serious and frivolous, are lauded, the authors' theme
is to give credit to women whose creative talents have been unknown or
Mathmaticians are People, Too: Stories from the Lives of Great
by Luetta Reimer, Wilbert Reimer / Paperback: 152 pages / Dale Seymour
Publications (June, 1993)
This Volume Two of two dramatizes the lives of Omar Khayyam, Albert
Einstein, Ada Lovelace, Charles Babbage, and others. 15 illustrated
vignettes per book introduce students to great mathematicians from various
Feminine Ingenuity: Women and Invention in America
by Anne L. MacDonald / Paperback - 540 pages (March 1994) / Ballantine Books (Trd Pap);
Chronicles women's patented inventions, beginning with the first patent obtained by a
woman (in 1809). Discusses some of the economic, political, and social obstacles, and sets
the women and their inventions in historical context.
Invent: Two Centuries of Discoveries That Have Shaped Our World
by Susan Casey /Paperback
- 144 pages (October 1997) / Chicago Review Press
These inspiring stories of women inventors take the
reader on a step-by-step journey through the process of inventing.
The Calculating Passion of Ada Byron (Limited
by Joan Baum / Hardcover: 133 pages / Archon Books (December, 1986)
Byron has recently gained fame for
her explanatory notes on Charles Babbage's analytical engine, which
constitute the first explanation of the concept of computer programming.
This treatment of her life is well documented,
portrays an intriguing time period for would-be women scientists, and
presents an unusual viewpoint.
The Bride of Science: Romance, Reason, and Byron's Daughter (Limited
by Benjamin Woolley / Paperback: 432 pages / Publisher: McGraw-Hill
Co.Reprint edition (2002)
Ada Byron, Lady Lovelace, daughter of the poet Lord
Byron, was one of the most fascinating women of the 19th century. In
collaboration with Charles Babbage, inventor of the mechanical "thinking
machine" that anticipated by more than a century the invention of the
ON THE SCREEN:
DVD / 1 Volume Set / 50 Minutes / History Channel / Less than $25.00 /
The incredible breakthroughs and refinements that have marked the
development of the computer are so familiar that they have lost some
of their power to amaze
ON THE WEB:
Ada Byron, Ladt Lovelace
After she wrote the description of Babbage's Analytical Engine her life was
plagued with illnesses, and her social life, in addition to Charles Babbage,
included Sir David Brewster (the originator of the kaleidoscope), Charles
Wheatstone, Charles Dickens and Michael Faraday.
Contributed by Dr. Betty Toole, author of Ada, the Enchantress of Numbers
First Computer Program
In the annotations, which were called "Notes", Ada Lovelace described how
the Analytical Engine could be programmed and gave what many consider to be
the first ever computer program.
Article by: J J O'Connor and E F Robertson
Lovelace Links Page
A selection of web pages related to
Lovelace , Babbage and the computer. Presented by the Geometry, the online learning
Who Was Ada Augusta
From the Association for Women in Computing
The First Computer Programmer
When inspired Ada could be very focused and a
mathematical taskmaster. Ada suggested to Babbage writing a plan for how the
engine might calculate Bernoulli numbers. This plan, is now regarded as the
first "computer program."
The Ada Picture Gallery
This page contains a lot of Ada related pictures. They are organized in
three sections depending on whether the image is related to the Ada
programming language, to Lady Augusta Ada Byron, or to none of these.
Augusta Ada Byron, Lady Lovelace
At 17, Ada was introduced to Mary Somerville, a prominent mathematician
in England and one of the few successful females in the field. At a
dinner party at Mrs. Somerville's, Ada heard of Charles Babbage's ideas
for a new calculating engine, which he called the Analytical Engine (a
The First Computer Programmer
Ada Lovelace is best known as the first computer programmer. She wrote
about Charles Babbage's "Analytical Engine" with such clarity and
insight that her work became the premier text explaining the process now
known as computer programming.
Augusta Ada Lovelace Award
Presented by Association for Women in Computing
A short introduction and perspective on software.
Some examples of early types of software and their development. Explanation
of some software jargon and a general introduction to programming. Editor:
Jan Bakker for the History of Computing Project.
In 1833 Ada met Charles Babbage and was fascinated with both him and his
Engines. Later Ada became a competent student of mathematics, which was most
unusual for a woman at the time. (URL: www.ex.ac.uk/BABBAGE/ada.html)
"If you are as fastidious about the acts of your friendship as
you are about those of your pen, I much fear I shall equally lose your
friendship and your Notes. I am very reluctant to return your admirable &
philosophic 'Note A.' Pray do not alter it . . . All this was impossible for
you to know by intuition and the more I read your notes the more surprised I
am at them and regret not having earlier explored so rich a vein of the
noblest metal." - Charles Babbage upon
reading Ada's notes in 1843
DID YOU KNOW?
- Augusta Ada Byron 's father was the
famous poet Lord George Gordon Byron and her mother was Anne Isabelle
- Both Augusta Ada Lovelace and her famous
father the poet Lord Byron died at the age of 36
- Her social circle of friends, in
addition to Charles Babbage, included Sir David Brewster (the
originator of the kaleidoscope), Charles Wheatstone, Charles Dickens
and Michael Faraday.
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Reference Sources in BOLD Type.
This page revised November 23, 2005.
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