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. 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 probably agree why she deserves an entire day dedicated to her.
In 1842, Lovelace translated a short article by Italian mathematician, Luigi Menabrea, that described Babbage's Analytical Engine. As 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 and intellectual prowess that makes Lovelace such an icon.
The first computer programmer
It's worth noting that Babbage and his assistants had sketched out programs The Analytical Engine before, but Lovelace’s are the most elaborate and complete. They were also the first to be published, which is why 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, with Notes from the Translator”. The Analytical Engine remained a vision until the 1940s, when Lovelace’s notes became one of the critical documents to inspire Alan Turing’s work on the first modern computers.
Even now in 2016, the world of technology is still dominated by men, and 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, to celebrate Ada Lovelace day, our very own female web developer, Cheralyn, has wrote about the woman that most inspires her in tech, Roya Mahboob.