Happy Lady Ada Day!

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Happy Lady Ada Day!

Lady Ada Day celebrates the life of Ada Lovelace, daughter of the poet Lord Byron and a woman credited as the world’s first computer programmer. She reportedly had no contact with her father and took up an interest in science instead of a life of letters.

From FindingAda.com, a web site that celebrates the life of Ada and female scientists everywhere:

In 1842 Lovelace translated a short article describing the Analytical Engine by the Italian mathematician Luigi Menabrea, for publication in England. (Mathematician Charles) Babbage asked her to expand the article, “as she understood the machine so well.” The final article is over three times the length of the original and contains several early ‘computer programs,’ as well as strikingly prescient observations on the potential uses of the machine, including the manipulation of symbols and creation of music. Although Babbage and his assistants had sketched out programs for his engine before, Lovelace’s are the most elaborate and complete, and the first to be published; so she is often referred to as “the first computer programmer.” Babbage himself “spoke highly of her mathematical powers, and of her peculiar capability — higher he said than of any one he knew, to prepare the descriptions connected with his calculating machine.”

Software development and engineering are male-dominated fields, but there is a growing number of women making their mark in these areas. We’d like to hear from you about the unsung female programmers, engineers, and makers that you most admire.  Whom do you know who deserves a special shout out on Lady Ada Day?

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Stett Holbrook is editor of the Bohemian, an alternative weekly in Santa Rosa, California. He is a former senior editor at Maker Media.

He is also the co-creator of Food Forward, a documentary TV series for PBS about the innovators and pioneers changing our food system.

View more articles by Stett Holbrook