SWHM Encore: Guest Ki on Ada Lovelace

Hi friends! You’re like “whoa, what the heck, Lime, I thought we had a month off from Smithsonian Heritage Months?” And I had been all “yeah this is the close!” … But I ~changed my mind. I totally missed a message from Ki last month. (I didn’t even know she’d sent a file through Facebook – since when has that been a thing?!) So – I definitely wanted to include it, because Ada Lovelace was a badass. So everyone let’s get settled in to learn about Ada Lovelace, and thank you Ki for this lovely post! <3

Ada Lovelace


Hi y’all! I’m super grateful to be a part of this fabulous month for Women’s History.

As an amateur history buff and amateur research wonder (if that even makes sense) I like to research history and anything that relates to the Regency and Victorian era. Hopefully this doesn’t turn out to be a long research essay but brave through it with me and I hope you’ll learn something new.

As there are many famous ladies known during the Regency and Victorians (courtesans and gentlewomen of birth), there’s one that out beats them all for me, Ada Lovelace!

Of course Ada Lovelace isn’t her real name but a name given to her for her title. She would have been only a small part of history for her notorious father’s reputation but with her connections and knowledge she has made history! Despite men in the world trying to discredit both her and her work for years.

She was born Augustus Ada Gordon Byron in 1815, and then later, Lady Ada King, Countess Lovelace, (a magnificent title isn’t it!) when she married William King-Noel, the 1st Earl of Lovelace. But she’s most famously known as Ada Lovelace, or for me, Lord Byron’s daughter.

Although she’s the only legitimate child of the erratic poet George Gordon Byron, 6th Baron Byron, and mathematician mother Annabella Milbanke, she never met her father. Lord Byron left the country 4 months after Ada’s birth for Italy to never return. Her mother quickly requested for a legal separation from Bryon (which was unheard of and scandalous during the time) and got it approved.

Because her father was a volatile poet and a man whore shall I say in England, her mother raised Ada under a “strict regimen of science, logic, and mathematics.” But of course Ada was born to love numbers and even hoped to be an “analyst and metaphysician,” asking of her mother, “if you can’t give me poetry, can’t you give me ‘poetical science’?”

But what made her huge and well known was when she met Charles Babbage, the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of London, and father of the computer in 1833, at the age of 17 by introduction from Mary Sommerville, a Scottish scientist and polymathemtician herself, during a dinner party. Ada and Babbage became lifelong friends and talked about all topics of math and logic.

She became fascinated with Babbage’s Analytical Engine, and later help translate an article from Italian mathematician Luigi Menabrea who supported the device and wrote an article on it by adding and extending her own research of the Engine with a better understanding of articulating Babbage’s ideas than himself.

She saw the Engine as more than a sophisticated calculator so during her research Ada wrote extensive side notes of her work “detailing how the Engine could be fed step-by-step instructions to do complicated math, and trained to work not only with numbers but also words and symbols “to [even] compose elaborate and scientific pieces of music of any degree of complexity or extent.” These notes are considered to be the first descriptions of what we now call algorithms and computer programming as she even suggested for the Engine to be able to calculate Bernoulli numbers.

So she basically helped invent the mechanical calculator at the same time as creating the first computer program!

Sadly she only lived a short life and died at the age of 36 to cancer. She was buried next to her father in Italy even though she had never met him. *aww~ tears tears*

Ada’s programmes remained nothing but visions and Babbage never did see his invention come to light. In fact there were no manifestations of their machine until the mid-20th century where Alan Turing is reported to have used it as inspiration for his modern computer work.

So if it wasn’t for her work and research we would have nothing here right now on ALBTALBS.

Women power you know, we’re smart and can’t let all those men tell us we’re not.

You can read some of her article here.

So have you heard of Ada Lovelace before? Did you know there’s Ada Lovelace Day every year mid-October. (That’s all I can find – no specifics on how it’s otherwise decided, but I know this year it’s on October 13.) 🙂 You can also remember to check out the google doodle on Ada’s birthday on December 10th.
Ada Lovelace Google Doodle
What a singular woman! Thanks so much for sharing, Ki! Have you guys heard of Ada Lovelace before? Have any other women to suggest as being amazing and deserving of celebration? The field is wide open! Let’s hear it! <3

3 thoughts on “SWHM Encore: Guest Ki on Ada Lovelace

  1. SOS Aloha

    DOD named its own program ADA in her honor. Incoming computer officers learned ADA back in the 80s … and that’s how I learned about Ada Lovelace!

  2. Ki Pha

    Yay! I swear Lime, you never get my emails so FB seemed the easiest way to contact you. But I guess I was wrong on that front too. LOL

    I should also add that Ada had a half sister, or even two! Although one sister died as a child, Ad a never new her. This sister is also the only daughter Byron really cared for. As for the other “sister” (no one knows for sure if she’s Byron’s since her mother is Byron’s sister! Taboo and scandalous yes) Ada has been in good contact with her.

    But okay, enough of my knowledge, every day should celebrate amazing women!


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