How Ada Lovelace, Byron's Daughter, Changed the World.
Ada Lovelace (1815-1852) was Lord Byron's only legitimate child. Heaven knows how many illegitimate children he was responsible for. Byron (1788-1824) , Poet, Politician and wayward Romanticist was hardly the perfect role model for the young Ada. Given that his father was later known as Captain "Mad Jack" Byron, who set a world speed record for circumnavigating the globe, not surprising then that Byron probably made his own record;
for the number of his affairs.
Picture: Ada Lovelace and her father, Lord Byron. Montage, images from Wikipedia.
Ada was their first and only legitimate child, named by Byron himself. Byron separated from his wife, Annabella only a month later and left England, never to return. He mentions in a poem, "Is thy face like thy mother's my fair child! ADA! sole daughter of my house and heart?". After joining the Greek War of Independence, he was to die 8 years later.
Lady Byron was determined to see Ada have a good education and encouraged the study of mathematics, in stark contrast to her wayward father. Although, not determined enough
to parent her, as she was often palmed off on her grandmother Lady Milbanke, who was fortunately a doting granny. Lady Byron encouraged 'spying' by family and friends,
just to check if there was evidence of the 'furies' she had seen in Byron. She wrote 'concerned' letters about Ada, which she asked to be kept, as evidence, just in case Social Services
came poking around...
Sum Good Ideas
Ada was a talented mathematician and she was able to meet and socialise with luminaries of her day, such as Michael Faraday, Charles Dickens, Sir David Brewster and Andrew Crosse. She was presented to the Royal Court at an early age. She met Charles Babbage when she was just 18 after an introduction from her maths tutor, Mary Somerville. An enduring friendship ensued.
Ada married William King in 1835, and when he was made Earl Lovelace and Viscount Ockham in 1838, she became Countess of Lovelace. They lived at Ockham Park, had a Scottish retreat, a London house and visited Worthy Park in the summer. They lived at Horsley Towers , adapted to King's own eccentric designs in 1845.
Armorial of Earl of Lovelace, with Byron in pretence.
Arms of Byron: Argent three bendlets enhanced gules. The service would have been used by the family and any visiting guests of the day.
Charles Babbage held a seminar to describe his proposed 'Analytical Engine' at the University of Turin in 1840. He is now regarded as the father of computing. At the Seminar, a young engineer had made notes. Luigi Menabrea (who late became Prime Minister of Italy) translated them into French, and published them. Ada was commissioned to translate the paper into English. This she did, but added her own notes and the work was three times larger than Menabrea's at nearly 30,000 words. Astonishingly, she had realised the potential of computers beyond that of merely number manipulation, a concept she was the first to realise, a hundred years ahead of her time. An incredible feat for a woman in the 1840's.
She is credited as writing the first computer algorithm or program. Her 'Note G' from the publication, to compute complex Bernoulli Numbers. She even mused on the possibility of artificial intelligence.
A working model of Babbage's Difference Engine was built in 2002.
Picture: Original section of Analytical engine.
Charles Babbage, CC BY-SA 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons