Happy Ada Lovelace Day

March 24, 2009


Ada Lovelace

Today is Ada Lovelace Day, created to mark the birth of software development and to commemorate the extraordinary woman who started us all on this path.

165 years ago, Ada Lovelace wrote the very first computer program in the notes to her translation of Luigi Menebrea’s article on the Analytical Engine — a theoretical machine proposed by Charles Babbage. The program would have calculated Bernoulli numbers, but Babbage was never able to build the machine, so I guess you could say she never shipped.

It’s amazing when you consider how she wrote a program without many of the tools we take for granted today. She wrote the first program without a text editor nor a working version of the machine it was to run on: No hard drive, no graphics co-processor, no APIs, not even a compiler. She wrote that code by hand – truly by hand. She didn’t even have a typewriter.

It’s amazing to think of the journey Lovelace started in not only software, but also hardware. From calculating machines the size of houses, to cryptographic crackers the size of rooms, to telephone traffic managers the size of desks, to accounts receivable controllers the size of briefcases, to presentation designers the size of books to communication devices the size of hands, Ada started it all.

Thank you Ada.


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