World’s first computer programmer

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In her recently published book “Broad Band”, Claire L. Evans wants readers to learn more about women who have been forgotten in the history of technology. Ada Lovelace might not be a household name like Steve Jobs, but she might be the first computer programmer. Here is a transcript of the video.

How a woman of the 1800s became the first computer programmer

Claire L. Evans: Ada Lovelace understood that if you could create a machine that calculated not only individual numbers but abstract variables, you could use computers to weave numbers, musical notes, any kind of symbolic language and that it could be applied. to really anything the way is in our modern world.

Ada Lovelace was the daughter of the poet Lord Byron. She was a Victorian mathematician, the very first computer programmer. His dad was known as kind of shady, romantic, you know, a little bit seedy, a little crazy, a little wild. When he divorced her mother, she decided that she was going to try to curb any romantic tendencies in her daughter’s mind by teaching her mathematics, rigorously, from an early age. So she was educated in math and science from childhood, but unfortunately she retained some of her father’s poetic spirit, so she became obsessed with the idea of ​​math as a form of poetry. and as a metaphysical art in itself.

She wrote to all those mathematicians and scientists of her day to correspond with her and give her lessons, but ultimately, yes, she was self-taught. She read whatever came her way, she kept abreast of all the scientific publications of her time, she corresponded with people she admired, and she organized small science fairs in her immediate social circles. So she learned everything she knew. And she ended up spending her life developing mathematical proofs for the first computer. In fact, even before computers were built, she had mathematical proofs that can be characterized as the first computer programs for a machine called the Difference Engine, and then the Analytical Engine.

Thus, Ada Lovelace’s main contribution to the history of computing is a set of notes she wrote that were translation footnotes from an article written on the analytics engine of Charles Babbage, a machine with which he really struggled to finance. the British government. He traveled across Europe to lecture on the machine. One of the people who attended one of those interviews was a young Italian engineer named LF Menabrea, who eventually became the Prime Minister of Italy. He wrote a technical article on the analytical engine which was published in a Swiss journal. Ada read it. She thought it was pretty good. But she thought she could do better.

She showed it to Babbage, and she said, “Can’t I do better than that?” Basically. She ended up creating a volume of notes that ended up being several times larger than the original paper. It took a huge leap that was only really recognized in the 1950s, at the dawn of the computer age. A number of IT people rediscovered his notes and reposted them because they basically predicted everything they were doing in the early days of IT. We must actively ensure that we develop our own history, keep it up to date, maintain it and open it up to as many people as possible.


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