Feeds

Poet's daughter was first programmer… NOT

Biography of Lord Byron's daughter makes interesting claims

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

A new biography of Ada (an abbreviation of Augusta), Countess of Lovelace, by Benjamin Woolley will perpetuate the myth that she was the world's first programmer. There are several problems with this, principally that Charles Babbage himself fulfilled that role, and that he was most notably assisted by his son Herschel, and possibly his two younger sons as well. Ada Lovelace's role was essentially to review some of Babbage's earlier work. Ada was the daughter of Byron, but did not know him as her mother was separated from him five weeks after her birth. She is described as a mathematician, but her mathematical accomplishment was minimal. In 1843 she translated from French a paper by the Italian General Meabrea (later prime minister of Italy), who had heard Babbage lecture in Turin on plans for his analytical engine a couple of years earlier. When she showed the paper to Babbage, he suggested she added her own notes, which she did, copiously - but they are rambling screeds of limited value. It's a matter of definition as to whether Babbage's engine could be programmed in any modern sense of the term. It appears that Ada suggested to Babbage that the machine be used for calculating Bernoulli numbers. Ada characterised Pascal's machine as a calculator, and of little use, while Babbage's engine was the real thing - except that it never worked in his lifetime and was only completed a few years ago. It is in the Science Museum in South Kensington, although friends of ex-MS head of research Nathan Myhrvold will be able to see his in due course, since he bought one at the museum shop. Woolley shows that Ada was a considerable flirt, a gambler unable to win despite her application of mathematics to the subject, and somewhat addicted to opium. So awful was Ada's writing that Woolley has had to paraphrase it. She died when she was 36, at the same age as her father, and also from cancer. Her modern incarnation is the Ada language, named after her, and developed by the US Department of Defense in 1979. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Ex-US Navy fighter pilot MIT prof: Drones beat humans - I should know
'Missy' Cummings on UAVs, smartcars and dying from boredom
Facebook, Apple: LADIES! Why not FREEZE your EGGS? It's on the company!
No biological clockwatching when you work in Silicon Valley
The 'fun-nification' of computer education – good idea?
Compulsory code schools, luvvies love it, but what about Maths and Physics?
Doctor Who's Flatline: Cool monsters, yes, but utterly limp subplots
We know what the Doctor does, stop going on about it already
'Cowardly, venomous trolls' threatened with TWO-YEAR sentences for menacing posts
UK government: 'Taking a stand against a baying cyber-mob'
Happiness economics is bollocks. Oh, UK.gov just adopted it? Er ...
Opportunity doesn't knock; it costs us instead
Sysadmin with EBOLA? Gartner's issued advice to debug your biz
Start hoarding cleaning supplies, analyst firm says, and assume your team will scatter
Don't bother telling people if you lose their data, say Euro bods
You read that right – with the proviso that it's encrypted
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.