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Who Was Ada Lovelace? 7 Facts About the World’s First Programmer

October 10th is Ada Lovelace Day! Ada lived in the early 19th century, but only in the past fifty years or so has she been recognized as a pioneer in science and math. On a day that celebrates women in STEM, we want to take a look back and honor Ada, the woman who came before us all. Here are 7 facts about this awesome lady:

1. It was uncommon for women to study math and science in Ada’s time. Her mother insisted upon tutors and teachers helping Ada apply herself to these subjects, though, in hopes of keeping her from developing the moody, unpredictable temperament of her father, the poet Lord Byron.

2. When publishing her now famous notes on a lecture by her mentor Charles Babbage, Ada went by only her initials, A.L.L. This was most likely to keep her identity as a female scientist a secret from prying public eyes.

3. Ada’s notes included what is now considered the first computer program. Her code was never run because the machine Charles wrote about wasn’t yet built, but it would have calculated a series of Bernoulli numbers. Bernoulli numbers have a connection to number theory – you can read more about them on Wikipedia.

Ada’s code, from 1842

4. Charles Babbage admits that Ada pointed out a mistake in one of his equations which, without her help, would have become the world’s first computer bug! That means that along with being the world’s first computer scientist, Ada was also the world’s first debugger.

5. In her later years, Ada tried to use her skills to develop numerical schemes for winning at gambling. This wasn’t as fruitful as her other endeavors.

6. Ada’s accomplishments were revealed more than a hundred years after her death. Her notes were republished in 1953, and that’s when experts began to recognize her work as the earliest foray into computer modeling and computation.

7. In 1980, the US government named a new computer language after Ada. It’s called – get this – Ada.

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