Ada Lovelace — World’s First Programmer

A woman with great vision, brilliant mathematician, analyst and metaphysician, who played vital role in history of computer development.

Fauzia A.
Fauzia A.
Apr 28 · 5 min read

Computers have not always been so light and programming languages ​​have not always been so easy. Information technology has developed very rapidly in recent centuries — hundreds of enthusiasts have taken part in this, while the names of many are now practically unknown to anyone.

A very important hero for computer science is Ada Lovelace — the daughter of the English poet George Byron, who is considered the first programmer in the world.

Ada Lovelace — World’s First Programmer
Ada Lovelace — World’s First Programmer
Watercolor portrait of Ada Lovelace by Alfred Edward Chalon around 1838- Photo thanks to Wikimedia Commons.

On December 10, 1815, a girl was born in the family of the famous English poet George Gordon Byron and Anna Isabella, Baroness Wentworth in London. I must say that Lord Byron was looking forward to the “nice boy” and was very disappointed when he was informed about the birth of his daughter.

At birth, the girl was given the name Augusta, in honor of Byron’s sister, however, later, when her parents dispersed, she was called Ada.

Ada’s parents separated when she was only five weeks old. Ada had to stay with her father — according to the rules of that time, in the event of a divorce, a man received full custody of his children, but in the case of the Byron family, everything turned out differently.

Lord Byron was not particularly eager to keep his daughter with him, and when his wife took the girl to her parents in Kirkby Mallory, he made no attempt to defend his parental rights.

As a result, Ada’s relationship with her father did not work out, or maybe they did not have time to develop — the poet died in 1824 when Ada was only eight years old.

She also did not succeed in a close relationship with her mother. Lady Byron often left her daughter in the care of her grandmother, Mrs. Judith Hon. The information in the sources varies greatly, some say that despite everything, Ada’s mother still came first, and that Lady Byron took part in raising her daughter; others say their encounters were very rare. But the fact is, Mrs. Byron invited good teachers for her daughter:

  • Scottish mathematician Augustus de Morgan. He distinguished himself greatly in his works on mathematical logic and the theory of series, and also gave the first developed system of an algebra of relations;
  • Mary Somerville — Astronomical and Mathematician, Scottish Popularizer of Science;
  • Pierre-Simon Laplace — A mathematician, physicist, mechanic, and astronomer — one of the founders of the theory of probability.

The older Ada got, the closer her friendship with Mary Somerville became. It was she who, in 1833, introduced Ada Lovelace to Charles Babbage, the English mathematician who invented the first analytical computing machine.

Among other acquaintances of Ada were the writer Charles Dickens, amateur scientist Andrew Cross, Scottish physicist David Brewster, physicist Charles Wheatstone.

At the age of seventeen, Ada Lovelace was introduced to the court and received the title of “popular bell of the season”. In part, this title was given due to the brilliant mind of Ada. By 1843, the girl became a regular at royal events.

n June 14, 1822, Charles Babbage presented his model of a Difference Engine to the Royal Society of Great Britain.

According to Babbage’s idea, his miracle machine was supposed to calculate the roots of polynomials with great accuracy, up to the sixth degree.

Unfortunately, the mathematician was unable to bring his idea to life; the Swedish inventor Georg Stutzu did it for him. However, Stutzu relied on Babbage’s advice and experience and, as a result, even took on a much more ambitious project.

Ada Lovelace — Fame and Recognition

Ada gained fame with the translation of an article by Luigi Menabrea, a recognized engineer who wrote many works on mechanics and mathematics.

In 1843, this article by Menabrea was published with notes by Ada Lovelace (in fact, she translated it). In her notes, Lovelace wrote that a machine similar to Babbage’s analytical machine will someday be able to process not only numbers but also any other objects: for example, create music, painting, formulas.

I must say that Lovelace’s notes turned out to be much more voluminous and wider than Menabrea’s article itself. In the same 1843, Ada Lovelace wrote a program for counting Bernoulli numbers.

Note: Bernoulli numbers are a sequence of rational numbers, first considered by Jacob Bernoulli in connection with the calculation of the sum of consecutive natural numbers raised to the same power.

Ada’s program is quite confusing. Ada has thought of operations that can be combined into groups. In turn, these groups could be repeated, which formed recurrent nested loops. Thus, Ada’s program monitored the state of the changing variables and recorded these changes.

It so happened that Ada wrote this program for posterity — after all, there were no computers then. Already in our time, programmers tried to translate Ada’s program into Python and C, but without results. As a result, the developers even found an error in Ada’s calculations. Here’s your first bug! As noted by blogger Jim Randall, who transferred Ada’s program to Python: “in the development diagram Lovelace writes v5 / v4, but v4 / v5 will be correct. This error may have appeared in print and not in Lovelace. ”

The Ada programming language

In 1979–1980, within the framework of the US Department of Defense project, the object-oriented programming language “Ada” was created, named after Lovelace. This language has compilers for almost any operating system. It includes support for parallel execution, customization of modules, exception handling.


“The Analytical Engine weaves algebraic patterns just as the Jacquard loom weaves flowers and leaves.” — Ada Lovelace

Ada Lovelace died on November 18, 1852; like her father, she died at the age of 36. The cause of death was blood loss. At that time it was very “fashionable” to treat any ailment with bloodletting, which, killed Ada. But on the other hand, if she had not died of blood loss, she would have died of cancer — Ada had uterine cancer. By order of Lovelace, she was buried next to her father at St Mary Magdalene’s Church in Hucknell, Nottinghamshire, in the Byron family crypt.

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Fauzia A.

Written by

Fauzia A.

Programmer | Designer

Nerd For Tech

NFT is an Educational Media House. Our mission is to bring the invaluable knowledge and experiences of experts from all over the world to the novice. To know more about us, visit Don’t forget to check out Ask-NFT, a mentorship ecosystem we’ve started

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