Happy Friday, everyone!
I’m doing a little something different this month in regards to Flashback Friday. Instead of celebrating an older game, this post will be about a person who has influenced the history of technology with her contributions in the field.
Augusta Ada King, Countess of Lovelace — also known more simply as Ada Lovelace — was a woman born in 1815 and only lived until 1852. She is often credited with creating the first computer program, creating an algorithm designed to be carried out by a machine.
Ada’s father, the poet Lord Byron, disappeared out of her life only a month after she was born, separating from her mother. Considering Lord Byron fled from their family to sire more children — and having fathered one, most likely two, other children before Ada with other women — Ada’s mother was bitter and encouraged Ada’s love of mathematics and logic to steer Ada away from Lord Byron’s way of waxing poetics. Despite this, Ada still admired her father’s work, requesting to even be buried next to her upon her death.
With her skills and learning in mathematics and logic, Ada’s studies helped her meet fellow mathematician Charles Babbage, who is considered the father of computers. Indeed, he created the first Analytical Engine, piquing Ada’s interest. Babbage’s notes had fragments of programs, but Ada’s was the first complete algorithm to be written and published.
Aside from publishing the first program, it is also written that Ada was the first person to see greater potential in the Analytical Engine. Rather than just performing logical equations and math, it was Ada who expressed that the Engine could potentially create music and art with the right programming. Considering the major steps programming and computers have taken within the past couple of centuries, Ada Lovelace was definitely ahead of her time. Can you imagine if computers and algorithms were mainly used just for number-crunching? How video games would have been affected?
Due to her feats in this field, every second Tuesday of October is Ada Lovelace Day, an international celebration of women and their achievements in the STEM fields. I am sad to only have just discovered this. To see an event that promotes women in typically male-dominated fields and, in turn, tries to encourage more girls to join these fields and helps to sponsor them.
I remember vividly in college that I was one of only two woman in most of my computer networking class. While the majority of my classmates weren’t bad, there were a couple of instances where it was joked that I did well on a project here or there because I was a woman and the professor was male, a suggestion that may not have been made had the men known about more women in technology fields. I hope that Ada Lovelace Day, which is only a decade old, continues to reach, support, and encourage people — women, men, and others alike — in the coming years.