Ada Lovelace Day

Why you should care about Ada Lovelace Day

Up until four hours ago, today’s date was non-distinct in my mind. However, October 15 is actually very calendar-worthy: it marks Ada Lovelace Day, a celebration of women in technology and the world’s first-ever computer programmer.

Ada Lovelace Day celebrates women who work in the STEM industries (that is to say, science, technology, engineering and maths). Named after – you guessed it – Ada Lovelace, who is considered to be the first ever computer programmer, the day marks the achievements of women in these traditionally male fields.

Ada – who helped to turn 19th century science on its head – was a pioneer in the development of the computer, and is believed to have been the world’s first programmer. Pretty awesome, no?

Admittedly, posting this at 10pm on the 15th is less-than-helpful to those of you who – like me – were unaware of the significance of the date, but hey; you’ve got plenty of warning for next year, at least!

There are numerous ways you can get involved with spreading the word about Ada Lovelace Day – click here for some ideas.

Who was Ada Lovelace (1815-1852)?

Ada – who was the only child of poet Lord Byron and his wife Anne Isabella Byron – was fascinated by science and developed a friendship with mathematician Charles Babbage, the ‘father of the computer’. Babbage described her as: “that Enchantress who has thrown her magical spell around the most abstract of Sciences and has grasped it with a force which few masculine intellects could have exerted over it…”

Thought to have developed her mathematical talents as a means of avoiding the ‘potential madness’ of her father, Ada’s brilliant mind propelled her to the forefront of the science world. At the age of 29 she expressed a desire to create a mathematical model for calculating ‘a calculus of the nervous system’, and between 1842-43 she translated a series of notes about Babbage’s latest machine, the Analytical Engine, adding her own notes on to the documents. Ada’s personal notes include what is considered to be the world’s first-ever computer program, a method for working out a sequence of Bernoulli numbers with the aid of Babbage’s Engine.

Painting of Ada Lovelace, by Alfred Edward Chalon.


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