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The Extraordinary Tale Of…

Byron’s daughter, Babbage’s protégée and Turing’s inspiration. There’s even a computer language named after her

1815 BIRTH OF THE FIRST PROGRAMMER

Ada Lovelace was a visionary whose brilliant mind identified the potential of computers a century before the digital age

In an age where women of a certain class were encouraged to become familiar with the arts, literature and perhaps a language or two, Ada Lovelace, who was born in London on 10 December 1815, had a remarkable start in life. Her mother, Lady Anne Isabella Milbanke, had studied science, philosophy and, most unusually for a woman, mathematics – and she wanted the same for her daughter. She was also determined that Ada would not follow in her father’s footsteps – he was the notoriously debauched poet Lord Byron.

Ada Lovelace was Byron’s only legitimate child. His marriage to Ada’s mother was brief and unhappy. Within weeks of Ada’s birth, Anne, sick of Byron’s drinking, gambling and incestuous a air with his half-sister, left him. A few months later, Byron quit England, and Ada never saw her father again. He died in Greece in 1824 when Ada was eight years old.

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December 2016