The web giant celebrates the tech pioneer’s 197th birthday with an image of “the enchantress of numbers” writing the first computer algorithm beside machines she helped design that were considered forerunners to the modern computer.
Born Augusta Ada Byron, Lovelance was poet Lord George Gordon Byron’s only legitimate child. After her parents separated soon after her birth, her mother Anne Isabella “Annabella” Milbanke tutored her in science instead of literature in order to strip her of any artistic temperament she may have inherited from her father, who was known to be slightly mad.
She met mathematician Charles Babbage at the age of 18 when he was designing the Analytical Engine — the first mechanical computer. In her future correspondence with him, she composed the first computer algorithm and predicted later computers’ capabilities to handle more than just mathematical calculations. Unlike Babbage, she recognized that the machine was not just a complex calculator, but a means of manipulating symbols, including pieces of music.
Lovelace passed away from uterine cancer at the age of 36 before Babbage’s Analytical Engine was built. Her writings detailing her predictions were rediscovered in the 1940’s. Lovelace’s legacy lives on in the computer programming language Ada and she’s commemorated every Oct. 16 on international “Ada Lovelace Day,” which celebrates women in science, technology, engineering, and math.