A new day, a new thing

My goal to learn something new every day

Day 47: The world’s first computer programmer

Remember the news story about the Barbie computer programmer book from a few months ago? The book was part of a series, published by Random House US, attempting to break down gender stereotypes. However the company behind it made a bit of a slip up with the “I can be a computer engineer” book. While Barbie was described as a computer engineer, it transpired that she couldn’t actually write a computer program without the help of a male colleague. Step in the internet.

While computer programming might be seen as a male-dominated field, there are of course plenty of women working within the sector, and today, I found out about Augusta Ada Byron, aka Ada Lovelace. Lovelace was the daughter of English poet Lord Byron, and was a successful mathematician. Lovelace is also credited by many as being the world’s first ever computer programmer.

Image courtesy of markhillary on Flickr

Image courtesy of markhillary on Flickr

I’ll refrain from getting in to the technical details, but here is what the New Scientist said about her achievements:

Lovelace is dubbed the first programmer because in 1843 she wrote a series of instructions for Charles Babbage’s proposed mechanical computer that would calculate Bernoulli numbers. She was the first to make a conceptual leap that had huge effects nearly 100 years later when electronic computers arrived.

In 2012, Google dedicated a doodle on the front page of the search engine to Lovelace to celebrate her 197th birthday. There is also an Ada Lovelace day that is celebrated in October to “raise the profile of women in science, technology, engineering and maths by encouraging people around the world to talk about the women whose work they admire.”

2 comments on “Day 47: The world’s first computer programmer

  1. eflnotes
    February 17, 2015

    there are a couple of nice videos of Grace Hopper I used in class recently – https://useenglisheveryday.wordpress.com/2015/02/05/thank-her-for-your-smart-phone-apps/



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This entry was posted on February 16, 2015 by in Tech and tagged , , .


February 2015

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