Today's Google Doodle marks the birth 197 years ago, on December 10, 1815, of Ada Lovelace in the recognition of her status as the word's first computer programmer and a computer visionary.
The Official Google blog also records how Ada Lovelace's story had come as an eye-opener to some members of the Silicon Valley Comes to the UK delegation. It was on a visit to 10 Downing Street, the home of the UK Prime Minister, that they were shown the portrait of the woman who is played a key role in the history of computing.
Portrait of Ada Lovelace by Margaret Carpenter,
part of the Government Art Collection
Ada, Countess of Lovelace was was the only (legitimate) daughter of the poet, Lord Byron but her mother, concerned to counter any influence from her estranged and disgraced husband, brought her daughter up with an emphasis on science and mathematics.
As a result when Ada met Charles Babbage she became fascinated his endeavor to build an “Analytical Engine.” In 1843 Ada she translated a paper (in French) by the Italian engineer Menabrea, "Sketch of the Analytical engine invented by Charles Babbage Esq". In fact the translated paper was far less important than the copious notes that she wrote following it - the notes were three times longer than the original paper. The annotations clearly demonstrate that she had made the leap of imagination necessary to see that the program, the software, was as important as the machine. The machine is merely the vehicle for the idea embodied in the program.
Within the paper Ada gives details of how to program the calculation of the Bernoulli numbers and how the machine can be made to do much more stating:
"The Analytical engine weaves algebraical patterns just as the Jacquard loom weaves flowers and leaves".
She also speculated just how far the computer would one day go and came up with the argument that is often referred to as "Lady Lovelace's objection". She wrote:
"The Analytical Engine has no pretensions whatever to ordinate anything. It can do whatever we know how to order it to perform".
Sadly Ada Lovelace died aged only 36 and computer programming was put on hold for another century.
Ada Byron, Countess of Lovelace,
born December 10, 1815, died November 27, 1852