What’s Ada Lovelace Day, you ask? Well, I’ll tell ya!
“Ada Lovelace Day is about sharing stories of women — whether engineers, scientists, technologists or mathematicians — who have inspired you to become who you are today. The aim is to create new role models for girls and women in these male-dominated fields by raising the profile of other women in STEM.”
I know I’m about as non-STEM in my education and future career as you can get, but I love me some Ada Lovelace, and I am a big fan of women being badass and doing what they love and roundhouse kicking gender stereotypes in the face! (I am also a big fan of dudes defying gender stereotypes, etc, etc, but today is about Ada and the ladies!)
So, back to Ada Lovelace. She was the daughter of mad, bad, and dangerous to know Lord Byron, superstar poet, who was such a character in his own right, but let’s not get distracted. Young Ada was born in 1815 and was raised primarily by her mother, math fan Annabella Milbanke since dear old dad was off galavanting in Italy and Greece, fighting wars of independence and getting killed. Typical, amiright?
Annabella made sure that Ada was well educated in math and science to prevent her inheriting her father’s “poetical” nature, and boy did that pay off.
When Ada was older, she made friends with the somewhat eccentric, rather brilliant, Charles Babbage who had an idea for a machine called an “analytical engine” which was unfortunately never built, but pretty much had the basic elements of a modern computer. Ada was very interested in this machine and according to Babbage, understood it better than almost anybody else. In the course of translating an article on the machine, Ada added many of her own notes on how the machine could be used - to manipulate symbols or create music, for instance. This made Ada essentially the first computer programmer, decades before the modern computer was actually invented. It also makes her a total BAMF.
Sadly, Ada died of cancer at the age of 37, but her impact on computers is undeniable, since “Lovelace’s notes became one of the critical documents to inspire Alan Turning’s work on the first modern computers in the 1940s.”
Now, in honor of Ada, I would like to thank all the women out there currently doing great things in STEM fields and inspiring the rest of us to follow our dreams, no matter the barriers.
I’d also like to share this hilarious comic about Ada Lovelace and Charles Babbage:
And Kate Beaton’s brilliant Ada Lovelace comic: