Friday, October 7, 2011

There is nothing that is not awesome about Ada Lovelace

Today is Ada Lovelace Day. The internet said it, so it must be true. And that means that we get to spend some time celebrating one of the single most awesome people in history. Ada Byron, Lady Lovelace, for those who haven't heard the tale, was the daughter of Lord Byron, the famous dissipated aesthete. Under the careful tutelage of her psychotic mother (you'd have to be pretty crazy to hate poets and have Lord Byron's kid, though then again the two might be related), she grew into both the manic-depressive romantic heroine any child of Lord Byron should be, and a hero of SCIENCE! in an era when this was not a thing that happened.

A decade or two after Mary Shelley invented science fiction with Frankenstein, Ada Lovelace was working with Charles Babbage on figuring out the World's First Computer. By virtue of this she became, by most counts, the World's First Computer Programmer. The fact that the computer didn't actually exist doesn't really diminish this at all; in fact, it makes it even greater, since it does exist now and we know it actually would have worked. This is both 1) the most steampunk thing ever and 2) incredibly awesome. Somehow I guess there are still people who believe the "women can't do computer science" thing out there, despite such sterling examples as Grace Hopper, Barbara Liskov, and my own advisor. So, for those poor benighted people, YOU'RE DOING IT WRONG. And for boys and girls in CS looking for someone to admire, it's hard to do better than Ada Lovelace. Happy Lovelace Day!

P.S.: Also, there is an amazing webcomic miniseries about Lovelace and Byron that you all should read.

1 comment:

  1. Awesome! I've read about her and she was indeed pretty cool. :D