TMCnet Feature
December 10, 2012

Google Honors Ada Lovelace, World's First Computer Programmer

By Carlos Olivera, TMCnet Web Editor

Today’s Google (News - Alert) Doodle recounts the evolution of computers, and celebrates the birthday of one of the most important mathematicians, Ada Lovelace.

Lovelace, born Augusta (News - Alert) Ada King on December 10th 1815 in London, wrote the world’s first algorithm and is widely regarded as the first computer programmer. She was born to Lord Byron and Anne Isabella Byron, but never had a relationship with her father who died when she was eight-years-old.  

Anne wanted to make sure Lovelace didn’t stray the way of her father, who was a poet, so she had her daughter tutored in science and mathematics.   

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At the age of 17, Lovelace met and befriended Charles Babbage, who is referred to as the first computer pioneer. She became fascinated with his idea of the Analytical Engine, or the world’s first computer. Babbage first conceived the thought of the Analytical Engine in 1834, but died in 1871 before he could complete his project.

Lovelace got a hold of an article on the views of the Analytical Engine written by Italian mathematician and engineer Luigi Federico. She decided to translate Federico’s Italian work, with the bulk being her own notes, which included step-by-step instructions on how the machine could work, thus creating the world’s first algorithm.

Babbage saw the machine solely as a way to calculate mathematics, but Lovelace thought far beyond that realm, even proposing its potential to compose music:

“Supposing, for instance, that the fundamental relations of pitched sounds in the science of harmony and of musical composition were susceptible of such expression and adaptations, the engine might compose elaborate and scientific pieces of music of any degree of complexity or extent.”

Google wanted to make sure Lovelace received the recognition she deserves, and decided to pay homage to her by showing her writing the algorithm in today’s Google Doodle. Although Lovelace’s exact algorithm was never used, she is still honored by having the computer language Ada named after her. She died of cancer in 1852 at the age of 36.

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Edited by Brooke Neuman
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