Ada Byron, Lady Lovelace

Ada Byron, Lady Lovelace was a masterful mathematician and is now known as the first computer programmer, having envisioned the modern computer. She was born in 1815, the daughter of the poet Lord Byron. Her parents separated shortly after her birth and her father died when she was 8. Her mother raised her to be a mathematician and scientist, at least in part to keep her from becoming a poet like her father. But she referred to her approach to mathematics as “poetical science.” She married the Earl of Lovelace and had 3 children, but she maintained a correspondence with Charles Babbage, who had written an article imagining the Analytical Engine, a calculator. In her own 1843 article, she expanded on Babbage’s idea, predicting that a machine could compose music, produce graphics, and have a practical as well as a scientific use. That I’m typing this on a laptop computer that will do everything she envisioned, is proof of her brilliant imagination, to say the least. She died at age 36 from uterine cancer.

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