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Ada Lovelace, the first programmer in history

26 mayo, 2021

Augusta Ada King, Countess of Lovelace, born on November 10, 1815 as Augusta Ada Byron, the only legitimate daughter of the Romantic poet Lord Byron and the fruit of a brief marriage to Anne Isabella Milbanke, Baroness of Wentworth also known as Lady byron, was an English writer known worldwide for describing the Charles Babbage’s Analytical Engine.

His parents separated one month after she was born, in fact never had any relationship with his father who left England for good in 1816 in order to escape the censorship of British society that accused him of sodomy and incest due to his continuous scandals of a sexual nature. Lord Byron died in Greece in 1823 without knowing to Ada and without having attended the funeral of his illegitimate daughter Clara Allegra Byron, what is said to be a true English gentleman.

Lady Byron was obsessed so that his daughter did not inherit anything from her father and raised Ada deeply in mathematics and music trying in this way to feed his rational and objective part to move it away from the emotional and subjective part that supposedly, they feed poetry. Still, his life was a constant struggle between reason and emotion, objectivism and subjectivism, poetry and mathematics.

Youth and training

Ada met Mary Somerville, a well-known nineteenth-century author and scientist who introduced her to Charles Babbage (a Lucasian professor of mathematics at the University of Cambridge and father of computers) on June 5, 1833 when she was only seventeen years old. Immediately began a bulky correspondence between the two on topics related to mathematics, logic, and ultimately, all subjects.

Charles Baggage was so impressed with the analytical capacity of the young Ada who nicknamed her as “The Enchantress of Numbers“.

Marriage and noble title

In 1835, Ada married William King, ten years her senior (29) so when King inherited the title of nobility in 1838 becoming the Earl of Lovelace, Ada became Countess of Lovelace and so it is known today as Ada Lovelace. She had three children in her marriage to King.

The analytical engine

In 1834, Babbage had plans for the construction of a new type of calculating machine, a general analytical machine. The analytical engine is the design of a modern general-purpose computer that represented an important step forward in the history of computing.

In 1842 the Italian mathematician Louis Menebrea published a memoir in French on the Analytical Engine. Babbage enlisted Ada as a translator of the memoir in French to adapt it to English, a job she carried out for nine months between 1842 and 1843. Ada not only translated the article but also provided him with added a bulkier set of notes than memory itself, those notes are the source of her fame as the first programmer in history.

Ada was the first person in the world to described a programming language of a general nature by interpreting Babbage’s ideas even better than himself. In 1843 she published a series of notes on Babbage’s analytical engine that she signed only with her initials for fear of being censored for her status as a woman.

He described concepts such as loop and the subroutine. She used to define herself as analyst and metaphysics something far more advanced for its time than the thinking of its primitive fellows.

Ada wrote a complete plan where the necessary algorithm that allow to calculate the values ​​of Bernoulli numbers using two loops, demonstrating the bifurcation capabilities of the analytical engine. He also described how to perform trigonometric operations that made use of variables also in Babbage’s analytical engine. He also defined the use of Perforated cards to program Babbage’s machine.


Lady Ada Lovelace died from the bleeding produced by the doctors of the time in her absurd Attempt to cure in this way a cancer of the uterus that consumed her on November 27, 1852 at the age of 37 years. She was buried at her own request together to the father who never knew at St Mary Magdalene Church in Hucknall, Nottingham.


Lady Ada Lovelace was another of the great geniuses that for one cause or another have died in a way early depriving the world of its abilities and wisdom. Ada has been remembered throughout history and attempts have been made to reward her legacy in some way.

For example the United States Army called one of their programming languages Ada in his honor. In 2010 Bruce Beresford began directing the film entitled “Enchantress of Numbers“Which will deal with the life of Lady Ada Lovelace who will be played by actress Zooey Deschanel

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