De eerste keer dat ik van haar hoorde
was tijdens TNW Conference 2018.
zie: Grand Opening/ TNW Conference 2018
waar de geschiedenis van internet werd geschetst
en de opwindende toekomst op dat gebied
zich ontvouwde vanuit het heden.
De alleréérste vonk om een “computing machine”
te programmeren bleek door een vrouw ontstoken:
ADA LOVELACE 1815-1852
Ada Lovelace, The first computer programmer
The woman most often known as ‘Ada Lovelace’
was born Ada Gordon in 1815, sole child of the brief
and tempestuous marriage of the erratic poet
Lord Byron, and his mathematics-loving wife
Fearing that Ada would inherit her father’s
volatile ‘poetic’ temperament, her mother raised her
under a strict regimen of science, logic, and mathematics.
Ada herself from childhood had a fascination with
machines– designing fanciful boats and steam flying machines,
and poring over the diagrams of the new inventions
of the Industrial Revolution that filled
the scientific magazines of the time.
Ada Lovelace was married to an aristocrat,
the Earl of Lovelace, so
his wife became Countess of Lovelace.
She had three children.
In 1833, Lovelace’s mentor, the scientist and polymath
Mary Sommerville, introduced her to Charles Babbage,
the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics
who had already attained considerable celebrity
for his visionary and perpetually unfinished plans
for gigantic clockwork calculating machines.
Charles Babbage and Ada Lovelace both
had somewhat unconventional personalities
and became close and lifelong friends.
Babbage described her as
“that Enchantress who has thrown her magical spell
around the most abstract of Sciences and has grasped it
with a force which few masculine intellects
could have exerted over it”.
* The Analytical Engine
Lovelace was deeply intrigued by Babbage’s plans
for a tremendously complicated device he called
the Analytical Engine, which was to combine
the array of adding gears of his earlier Difference Engine
with an elaborate punchcard operating system.
It was never built, but the design
had all the essential elements
of a modern computer.
In 1842 Lovelace translated a short article
describing the Analytical Engine by the italian mathematician
Luigi Menabrea, for publication in England.
Babbage asked her to expand the article,
“as she understood the machine so well”.
The final article is over three times the length of the original
and contains several early ‘computer programs,’
as well as strikingly prescient observations
on the potential uses of the machine,
including the manipulation of symbols and creation of music.
Although Babbage and his assistants had sketched out
programs for his engine before, Lovelace’s are the most elaborate
and complete, and the first to be published;
so she is often referred to as “the first computer programmer”.
Babbage himself “spoke highly of her mathematical powers,
and of her peculiar capability — higher he said than of any one
he knew, to prepare the descriptions connected
with his calculating machine.”
The Analytical Engine remained a vision,
until Lovelace’s notes became one of the critical documents
to inspire Alan Turing’s work
on the first modern computers in the 1940s.
From: Who was Ada?
* The Analytical Engine
is een door Charles Babbage (1791-1871)
1) Watercolor portrait of AdaLovelace (detail)
2) Portrait of Ada Lovelace (detail)
by Margaret Carpenter