Ada Lovelace

The first programmer

Contributed by: Ally Schumacher



Europe, Historical figure, Technology, Theory/Computational, Woman



Note: click the gear symbol to see notes that accompany the presentation

View and download in google slides here



Science’s Most Elusive Women: Augusta Ada King, Countess of Lovelace



Slide 1: Researcher’s Background

Ada Lovelace is considered to be the first computer programmer based on her contribution to the Analytical Engine. She saw the computational and mathematical potential of the machine, and with her forward thinking the concepts of code in modern technology can be linked to her ideas. Her contribution to science was not limited to computer programming at the time but also she was known for her reviews of other popular science discovery during the 1840s such as “a calculus of nervous systems”. She had insight in a broad sense of mathematics from electrical engineering to the mathematical fundamentals of music which was unusual for a woman to be involved in during the timeframe. Her education can be attributed to her private tutoring lesson as child which was a catalyst for her later work in mathematics. She was acknowledged during her time as a visionary for seeing the potential of her work. 

Biography in brief

Ada Lovelace, born as Augusta Ada Byron, was the child of famous poet Lord George Gordon Byron. Lovelace was taught mathematics by her mother and tutors which ultimately developed into rigorous studies. From the beginning of her education Ada showed a talent for numbers and language. In June of 1833, at age 17, she met Charles Babbage, a mathematician and inventor. Charles served as a mentor to Ada and she began studying advanced mathematics at University of London. She would later marry William King, May of 1836, to which she would be known as Ada King as she made progression in computer language development.  This work caused Ada Lovelace with the prestigious title of the world’s first programmer. Ada Lovelace passed away in November of 1852, at age 36, due to cancer. Her work and influence with the world’s first computer, Analytical Engine, lead to what computer programming is today. Her worked and notes were rediscover in the 1950’s leading to her title as the “World’s First Programmer”.  

Is (or was) their research under-valued because of their identity?

Ada was partnered with Charles Babbage, known as the father of the first computer, is now acknowledged due to her work that was documented by Charles and herself.


Slide 2: Research Overview

Take home message of study

Ada was the first to propose the idea the that the Analytical Engine could manipulate symbols; which was ultimately the transition from calculation to computation. This was the notion that a machine might act upon other things besides numbers. She also was the first to express the potential for computers outside mathematics. 

Study system

Ada Lovelace, also known as Ada King, known to be the first programmer to what would become computer programs and functional computer language. The image on the right is an example of her work as the first published computer algorithm on the analytical engine, the first general purpose computer in the 1830s. 



Slide 3: Key Research Points

Main figure

Seen is the Analytical Engine, designed by Charles Babbage, that Ada Lovelace assisted with. The analytical engine was first described in 1837 as a design for a simpler mechanical computer. This machine incorporates an arithmetic logic unit, control flow in the form of branching and loops, and an integrated memory making it the first design of a general purpose computer. Punch cards were used in some cases of the machine for memory storage and pegs to then be able to read the cards again when needed. Babbage was not known to write down instructions for the machine and this is where Ada made her first contribution as publishing and documenting the work done and potential for the machine. 


Societal Relevance

Ada’s writing may not represent the modern world of coding, but her metaphorical inspiration and mathematical aspirations, lead to the first conceptual understanding of computer programming. Her contribution to programming was commemorated by the united states Department of Defence Military Standard in 1980 with a computer language called “Ada”. 


Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: