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Ada Byron
Ada Byron

Ada Byron, Lady Lovelace, is credited with the idea for the first computer program. Byron was born December 10, 1815, the daughter of the poet Lord Byron. Five weeks after Ada was born Lady Byron asked for a separation from Lord Byron and was awarded sole custody of young Ada, whom she raised to be a mathematician and scientist. Lady Byron feared that her daughter might end up a poet like her father; despite her mother's fear, the young Ada did not ignore her poetical inclinations. In addition to math and science, she also followed her interest in philosophy.

At 17 Byron was introduced to Mary Somerville, a remarkable woman who translated the works of French mathematician Pierre-Simon Laplace into English. So impressive was her scholarship that Somerville's texts were used at Cambridge. Somerville encouraged Byron in her mathmatical studies and sought to put mathematics and science into a human context. Somerville's Cambridge connections proved fortuitous when, at a dinner party, Byron met Charles Babbage, the inventor of an analytical engine. She collaborated with him and wrote the translation for L. F. Menebrea's description of Babbage's analytical engine and added an extensive body of text which delineated how the machine could compute Bernoulli numbers. Her work is regarded as the first computer program.

In 1843 Byron married the Earl of Lovelace. She continued to correspond with Charles Babbage and in 1843 published an article predicting a machine that could compose music and produce graphics, which would be a boon to practical and scientific pursuits.

In 1979, a software language developed by the U.S. Department of Defense was named "Ada" in Byron's honor.


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