Ada Lovelace is considered to be the world’s first computer programmer.
Ada was born in England on December 10, 1815, the daughter of the famous and reckless poet Lord Byron. Soon after she was born, her parent’s marriage ended. Ada never saw her father again. Her mother, Anne Isabella Milbanke had a great interest in mathematics. Byron called her the Princess of Parallelograms. Anne Isabella steered her daughter away from poetry and into mathematics and science.
Ada’s mother discouraged her imagination fearing that she might end up like her father. But Ada had a wonderful imagination. She decided that she would learn how to fly. She studied birds’ anatomy and made a set of wings. She wrote and illustrated her own book called Flyology. She designed a flying mechanical horse.
In 1829, Ada became temporarily paralyzed after having measles. Bedridden until 1831, she improved her math and science skills. At age sixteen, restored to health, Ada was introduced to English society. She met famous scientists and became friends with the engineer Charles Babbage.
Babbage invented a machine called the Difference Engine. It worked like a giant calculator. He then designed a more complex machine he called the Analytical Engine. Babbage thought that the Analytical Engine would solve difficult mathematical calculations. The machine would then store these calculations. And it would also print them.
The Analytical Engine
Ada translated an article written about the Analytical Engine into English. She added her own notes. These notes contained an algorithm that would allow the machine to work. Ada’s algorithm is considered to be the first computer program.
The Analytical Engine was too expensive to build. But it is considered to be the first computer. And Charles Babbage is acknowledged as the “father of the computer.”
Charles Babbage designed his Analytical Engine to be capable of working with numbers. But Ada thought the machine had much greater possibilities. She envisioned it producing music, art, and writing, like modern computers.
Sadly, Ada died at age 36. Although she never met her father, she requested to be buried next to his grave in England.