Second Tuesday in October is Celebrated as Ada Lovelace Day

The second Tuesday in October is traditionally celebrated as Ada Lovelace Day.

ada-lovelace-day-celebrated

World’s first programming language

In 1833 Ada Lovelace developed what was arguably the world’s first programming language, or algorithm, for mathematician and mechanical engineer Charles Babbage, who was working on two prototype computers called the Difference Engine and the Analytics Engine.

Lovelace later described her dream of a computerized world in the book Taylor’s Scientific Memoirs, regarded as one of the most visionary documents in the history of science, published in 1843. In it, Ada related the possibility of machines that can perform such abstract tasks as composing music, regardless of the complexity of the piece.

For her work, Babbage christened Lovelace “The Enchantress of Numbers.”

Ada was the daughter of Lord Byron and mathematics-loving Annabella Milbanke, who instilled in her daughter a love of science, math and logic.

Some 110 years later, the U.S. military began developing the Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer (ENIAC), the world’s first electronic computer consisting of 17,468 vacuum tubes and weighing 30 tons. The ENIAC team put out a call for “computers” to program the new device, thus giving the name to posterity for all computing devices.

The six “computers” the team hired were all women: Jean Bartik, Frances “Betty” Snyder Holberton, Kathleen McNulty Mauchly Antonelli, Marlyn Wescoff Meltzer, Ruth Lichterman Teitelbaum and Frances Bilas Spence.

Grace Hopper later developed the rudiments of COBOL, the main language used in mainframe computers like the IBM S/360.

Ada Lovelace was thus the first in a long line of women who left their mark on the world of computing. Unfortunately, ten years after developing what she called her “Notes” (programming language using perforated cards), she died of uterine cancer.

Ada Lovelace Day, this year being the ninth annual celebration, marks the achievements of these and other women in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).


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