Women’s History Month – Ada Lovelace



Daina Desty, Staff Writer

Ada Lovelace was born December 10, 1815, in London, United Kingdom. Her father was a famed poet named Lord Byron. He had an affair with an actress and told Lady Byron that he would continue having that affair. He then sent her a note telling her to move out of their home two weeks after Ada was born.

Lord Byron moved away from home and passed when Ada was eight years old. Her mother feared that she would follow in her father’s footsteps so she put her in mathematics. She was tutored in mathematics and science at the age of four.  When she was twelve, she studied birds’ anatomy and conceptualized a flying machine. Her mother forced her to lie still for long periods because she believed it would help her develop self-control.

Around the age of seventeen, she met a man named Charles Babbage; they became friends and he was a mentor to her. Because of him, she studied mathematics at the University of London with Professor Augustus de Morgan.

Babbage was the father of computers. He invented an engine meant to perform mathematical calculations. Ada got a chance to go over it and was fascinated by it. She translated an article on Babbage’s analytical engine that was written by an Italian engineer Luigi Federico Menabre. She translated the original French version to English and added her thoughts on it as well. Her notes were three times longer than the original article. It was later published in an English science journal in 1843.

When publishing, she used the initials A.A.L., standing for Augusta Ada Lovelace.

 Ada Lovelace was the first to recognize the full potential of computing machines and is the world’s first computer programmer. She described codes for devices and how to handle letters with numbers; she theorized a method for an engine to repeat a series of instructions and it’s a looping process that is used in computer programs to this day.

Her article in her contributions to computing wasn’t recognized until a century after her death. 

Ada Lovelace was married to William King the first Earl of the Lovelace. They shared an interest in horses and they had three children together. William was a very supportive husband.

Ada Lovelace had a bad gambling addiction and she used her talents such as her mathematical schemes to win. Unfortunately, she began having financial problems due to her addiction to gambling. She suffered in her health and had issues with asthma and her digestive system. The medications that the doctor was giving her were painkillers and this caused her personality to change.

Ada Lovelace died from uterine cancer in London on November 27th, 1852. She was buried next to the father she never knew at the Church of Saint Mary Magdalene in England.

Again, Lovelace is recognized as the first woman or person ever to be a computer programmer. Sadly, her work was recognized a century after her death, but in the 1980s, the US Department of Defense named a new computer language after Lovelace called “Ada.”