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Ada Lovelace

Born December 10, 1815


Being a mathematical whiz from an early age, Ada Lovelace at age 17 met the brilliant British mathematician Charles Babbage. Ada was highly intrigued with his idea for an "Analytical Engine" -- a mechanical calculating machine whose design predated the digital computer by over 100 years.

The Difference Engine

In 1842, Lovelace unknowingly etched her name in computer science history when she agreed to translate an Italian article on Babbage?s "Difference Engine" machine. In the article she included a set of original notes that explained a specific method for performing calculations, which is recognized today as the very first algorithm. Pretty amazing, right?

And now for three interesting facts:

Little Ada believed she could fly

At age 12 Ada dreamed of flying. After studying birds and materials like feathers, paper and silk, all of which could be used to make ?wings?, she created fantastical "Flyology" sketches of steam powered flying machines.

Ada's thoughts on artificial intelligence

Although she recognized the extraordinary potential of computing, she was openly suspicious about the idea, stating: "The Analytical Engine (computer) has no right to originate anything. It can do whatever we know how to order it to perform." This topic remains a highly debated issue today.

Ada foresaw the potential for computer-generated music.

Before falling sick, Ada had written a letter to her mother telling her that she was working on "certain productions" that explored relationships between music and mathematics. Even then she knew that the Analytical Engine could someday be used to compose complex and elaborate melodies.

Now that you know a little bit about Ada Lovelace, learn a little bit about coding by trying our free 1 hour intro to programming course.

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