Google’s doodle today celebrates the 197th birthday of Ada Lovelace and traces the evolution of computers. What does this 19th century woman have to do with computers, you ask? Well her work on Charles Babbage’s Analytical Engine and notes on it are seen as the world’s first algorithm, thus earning her the the distinction of being the world’s first computer programmer.
The doodle today shows Ada Lovelace writing the algorithm with a quill pen and the scroll on which she is writing is in the shape of Google’s logo. You can also trace the evolution of computers from giant wooden machines to the modern day laptops and tablets.
Ada was the only legitimate child of the poet, Lord Byron. Her mother was Anne Isabella Byron but she never met her father; he died when she was eight. Her mother apparently didn’t want Ada to go down her father’s path and decided she must be tutored in mathematics.
So why did Google choose to celebrate Ada’s birthday? Well as this post on their blogpost states,
Too often, the contributions of women in science and technology are left untold, and to fade from view. While Ada’s story has been rediscovered, many others remain little known. That’s why initiatives such as Ada Lovelace Day are so valuable, as a catalyst for raising the profile of women in science, past and present.
Ada was born Augusta Ada Byron and on her marriage to William King she became Ada King and later her husband became an earl, she became the countess of Lovelace.
Her association with Charles Babbage, father of the computer, began when she translated an article by Italian mathematician and engineer Luigi Federico on Babbage’s proposed Analytical Engine. Ada envisioned that the Analytical engine could do more than mathematics. She even mused about its potential to compose music:
“Supposing, for instance, that the fundamental relations of pitched sounds in the science of harmony and of musical composition were susceptible of such expression and adaptations, the engine might compose elaborate and scientific pieces of music of any degree of complexity or extent.”
Ada Lovelace died at the young age of 36 on November 27, 1852 of cancer.
The computer language Ada is named after her and a medal is awarded in her name by the British Computer Society.