Feeds

Poet's daughter was first programmer… NOT

Biography of Lord Byron's daughter makes interesting claims

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Maximizing your infrastructure through virtualization

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. ®

The Power of One Infographic

More from The Register

next story
BBC goes offline in MASSIVE COCKUP: Stephen Fry partly muzzled
Auntie tight-lipped as major outage rolls on
There's NOTHING on TV in Europe – American video DOMINATES
Even France's mega subsidies don't stop US content onslaught
You! Pirate! Stop pirating, or we shall admonish you politely. Repeatedly, if necessary
And we shall go about telling people you smell. No, not really
Airbus promises Wi-Fi – yay – and 3D movies (meh) in new A330
If the person in front reclines their seat, this could get interesting
UK Parliament rubber-stamps EMERGENCY data grab 'n' keep bill
Just 49 MPs oppose Drip's rushed timetable
Want to beat Verizon's slow Netflix? Get a VPN
Exec finds stream speed climbs when smuggled out
Samsung threatens to cut ties with supplier over child labour allegations
Vows to uphold 'zero tolerance' policy on underage workers
Dude, you're getting a Dell – with BITCOIN: IT giant slurps cryptocash
1. Buy PC with Bitcoin. 2. Mine more coins. 3. Goto step 1
prev story

Whitepapers

Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.