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History of Women in Computing - Ada Lovelace 1815

History of Women in 
                                                                Computing Ada Lovelace

Ada had an ability. She had the mind that created the first proposed language of the first modern computer. Charles Babbage’s brain child “the Analytical Engine” was something that Ada found interest in. When he originally published his paper she immediately translated it into French and when Babbage found out, he asked her, “why she had not herself written an original paper on a subject with which she was so intimately acquainted.” Ada immediately responded with a collection of comments that were “three times the size of the original memoir”.

The “Observations on Mr. Babbage’s Analytical Engine” was something that Ada published early on, after years of collecting her work and filling in the holes for Babbage. She didn’t immediately realize the significance of her work and historically people rarely believed the theoretical machine Babbage proposed, so they took the work of Ada Lovelace as a fascination and a publicity piece about her family. Babbage himself though saw the importance of Ada’s writings and their relationship took a turn, because Babbage thought she ought to not publish it as a translation of Babbage’s work, but rather as a piece of her own.

Difference Engine
Charles Babbage's Difference Engine

Early in Ada’s life before she was schooled in mathematics her and her mother went to visit Babbage’s difference engine and became fascinated with it’s workings. Ada wrote in a letter to Mr. King that she thought it her religious duty to learn mathematics and sciences in order to understand the thing of her fascination (the difference engine). Ada often relied on the people in her life and her wits to get the knowledge she wanted to acquire. It was unknown for women to get so involved in mathematics and sciences and even for men to get so involved in the studies Ada was interested in without a degree. Due to her family being in the public eye Ada was careful about buying the books for her studies and seldom ever used her name. Ada wasn’t the only woman in her time to gain knowledge this way. Another woman whom Ada was tutoring, Mary Somerville remarked,

"I was annoyed, ... that my tum for reading was so much disapproved, and thought it unjust to give women a desire for knowledge if it were wrong to acquire it. "

Overall in Ada’s years her intellect was not something looked nicely upon. People of her time were more interested in her love life than her fascination with learning and mathematical principles. Though her mother understood Ada, the public eye took to her as somebody who was expiring because of the time she was spending learning such concepts”.

Somerville, even wrote to her often encouraging sewing, baking and duties that the common household wide might incur. Ada ended up taking a break because of this and later in life she remarks that she regrets ever having the thought of having children. She thought that once she had children she would be given time to focus on her studies and write her geometry book, but was proven wrong when her maternal duties took precedence.

Ada throughout life continued to correspond with Babbage and publish worked improving on his original designated design. She became the first computer programmer with her theoretical functions to execute processes.


Ada3 [Digital image]. (2016). Retrieved April 8, 2018, from http://www.pr owide solutions.com/images/blog/ada3.png
Charles Babbage Difference Engine No.2 [Digital image]. (2013). Retrieved April 10, 2018, from http://i.imgur.com/G8vNini.jpg
Stein, D. (1985). Ada, a life and a legacy. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press.