🗓️ Second Tuesday in October
Happy Ada Lovelace Day! Let’s raise a toast to the ultimate tech pioneer!
Ada Byron, better known as Ada Lovelace is known as the first computer programmer.
The possibilities she saw in these oversized calculators were so far ahead of her time that in these modern times we are still catching up!
Computers that can write stories and make art?
She already knew it was possible!
Charles Babbage was obsessed with making a computing device.
In 1819 he started building his Difference Engine, but before finishing this project Charles got distracted with ideas for a completely different approach and he build the Analytical Engine instead.
For his engines he is often called “father of the computer” in modern times.
But finding ways to make use of this engine proved tricky for him alone.
Along came another number loving person with a whole different perspective on how to really make work of programming this machine.
Ada Byron, who would later become the countess of Lovelace, liked the Analytical Engine so much that she helped Babbage with his calculations and writing articles about the Analytical Engine.
Ada believed that the Analytical Engine had a much greater potential that would transcend beyond just doing simple math.
She believed that machines such as these would one day be able to make music and even poetry.
Strange ideas for someone in the 19th century.
It would indeed take over a century before programmers could make AI that can indeed create poetry and music. But here we are!
Ada could envision this use of an oversized calculator before programming languages even quite existed.
To expand the possibilities of the Analytical Engine she wrote something that was more than mere calculations.
She expanded it into a heavily formulated string of instructions to be used on the machine.
This form of using calculations as instructions is what we now know to be an algorithm.
Algorithms are key to developing machine languages or as we like to call it: programming.
Ada’s vision is now our present.
We live in a time where we cannot imagine a world without computers
that serve us in all the versatile ways that she imagined and even more.
Her name lives on in the standardized programming language ADA.
ADA was developed in the late 1970ies to create some structure in a time when the use of too many different programming languages made compatibility between machines overly complicated.
The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) therefore defined a standard and named it after Ada (Byron) Lovelace to honor her legacy.