It’s #WomenWednesday – the day we’ve set aside especially to highlight the amazing impact women make when they are empowered to innovate. This week CiTTA is happy to recognize the birthday of the first computer programmer – Ada Lovelace.
Born in December of 1815, Ada Lovelace was empowered from the start by her mother. Lady Anne Isabella Milbanke Byron was a mathematical wiz herself (nicknamed the “Princess of Parallelograms”). Believing rigorous coursework rooted in logic and reason would benefit her daughter, Lady Anne set Ada to studying math and science by the tender age of four.
As her studies advanced, Ada became fascinated with the idea of flying. She wrote to her mother, “I have got a scheme to make a thing in the form of a horse with a steam engine in the inside so contrived as to move an immense pair of wings, fixed on the outside of the horse, in such a manner as to carry it up into the air while a person sits on its back…” She was only 12 years at the time!
Ada later met the “father of the computer” Charles Babbage and became his protégé. When he asked Ada to translate an article on his analytical engine for a scientific journal, she went above and beyond. Not only did she translate the original French text into English, but she also added her own thoughts and ideas on the machines. Her notes ended up three times longer than the original article – and she eventually published them in a prestigious scientific journal under the initials “A.A.L”- Augusta Ada Lovelace.
It was those very notes where Ada first described how codes could be created for the device to handle letters and symbols alongside numbers. She also theorized a method for the engine to repeat a series of instructions, a process known as “looping” that computer programs use today. For her notes and work, Ada is considered to be the first computer programmer.
Although Ada’s contributions to computer science were not acknowledged during her lifetime, she accurately predicted that her theories would stand the test of time. Ada was “re-discovered” in the 1950s and she has since received many posthumous honors for her work. In 1980, the US Department of Defense even named a newly developed computer language “Ada” in recognition of her efforts.
On #WomenWednesday, CiTTA believes it’s important to highlight women and businesses who go above and beyond expectations to make the most effective and powerful impact possible. Ada Lovelace did just that – making many of the tools we use in our daily lives possible. Read more about her here!