Ada Lovelace Day

As web development experts, we all appreciate the importance of Ada Lovelace day at upriseVSI.

Falling on the second Tuesday of every October, Ada Lovelace Day is an international celebration of the achievements of women working in the fields of science, technology, engineering and maths.

But who was Ada Lovelace and why is she such an iconic name in the tech industry? 

Maths and machines

Although she was born over 200 years ago, Ada Lovelace is still an inspiration for many women today, particularly in the tech industry. Born in 1815, Lovelace was the daughter of infamous poet Lord Byron and the highly intellectual Annabella Milbanke.

However, Lovelace didn't have a relationship with her father after he separated from her mother just a month after her birth. It's also worth noting that it was Lovelace's mother who encouraged her interest in mathematics and logic in a bid to prevent Lovelace from becoming anything like her father. 

Lovelace studied science and maths at a time when women rarely had access to such subjects. She worked with acclaimed mathematician Charles Babbage on his Analytical Engine, which was designed to solve mathematical problems.

Photograph: ScienceMuseum.org.uk

Many people believe that Lovelace understood this complex machine more so than Babbage himself and that she could see the future of computing and its potential to go beyond crunching numbers. She identified the machine's potential to manipulate symbols rather than just numbers, and her writing hints at what we now know about modern computing a century in advance. So you can see why she deserves an entire day dedicated to her.

Ahead of her time

In 1842, Lovelace translated a short article by the Italian mathematician, Luigi Menabrea, that described Babbage's Analytical Engine.

Since she had a vast understanding of the machine, Babbage asked her to expand the article with her own notes; as such, the final article is over three times the length of the original. It also contains several early computer programs as well as interesting observations on the potential uses for the machine.

Although her ideas probably seemed far-fetched at the time, Lovelace believed that the machine could be used to manipulate symbols and to create music, much like computers of today can. It is this incredible foresight that makes Lovelace such an icon today.

The first computer programmer

It's worth noting that Babbage and his assistants had sketched out programs for the Analytical Engine before. However, Lovelace’s were more elaborate and the first to be published. For this reason, Lovelace is often referred to as the first computer programmer in history.

Ada Lovelace sadly died of cancer at the young age of 36, just a few short years after the publication of "Sketch of the Analytical Engine invented by Charles Babbage".

Sketch of the Analytical Engine invented by Charles Babbage [by L.F. Menabrea, translated, and appended with additional notes, by Augusta Ada, Countess of Lovelace]

Photograph: Sophia Rare Books

The Analytical Engine remained relevant right up to the 1940s when Lovelace’s notes became one of the critical documents to inspire Alan Turing’s work on the first modern computers.

Today, while the world of technology is still largely dominated by men, Lovelace's vision for technology and thirst for knowledge have made her an inspiration for modern women in technology.

Fortunately, things are moving in the right direction and there are some incredible women making some serious noise in the world of technology. In fact, we've also written about another inspirational woman in tech; Roya Mahboob

Categories: Technology, Website Design & Development

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