The First Computer Programmer
Ada Lovelace was the daughter of the poet Lord Byron. She was taught by Mary Somerville, a well-known researcher and scientific author, who introduced her to Charles Babbage in June 1833. Babbage was an English mathematician, who first had the idea for a programmable computer.
In 1842 and 1843, Ada translated the work of an Italian mathematician, Luigi Menabrea, on Babbage’s Analytical Engine. Though mechanical, this machine was an important step in the history of computers; it was the design of a mechanical general-purpose computer. Babbage worked on it for many years until his death in 1871. However, because of financial, political, and legal issues, the engine was never built. The design of the machine was very modern; it anticipated the first completed general-purpose computers by about 100 years.
When Ada translated the article, she added a set of notes which specified in complete detail a method for calculating certain numbers with the Analytical Engine, which have since been recognized by historians as the world’s first computer program. She also saw possibilities in it that Babbage hadn’t: she realized that the machine could compose pieces of music. The computer programming language ‘Ada’, used in some aviation and military programs, is named after her.