Mouse Smash

JC Lau's blog about geekery, gender and other rants

Happy Ada Lovelace Day!

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To be clear, Mouse Smash is not intended to be a science or computing blog. However, it is a blog about (among other things) video gaming and gender, and for that reason Ada Lovelace Day deserves a mention. It’s especially timely given the ongoing debacle about women in the gaming industry. Well, guess who is attributed as being the first person to write a computer program? A WOMAN!

For those of you who live under a rock, Ada Lovelace was the daughter Lord Byron (yes, that poet guy) and Annabella Milibanke. It was Milibanke and her love of mathematics who ensured rigorous studies in science, maths and logic for young Ada. Kate Beaton describes their relationship pretty well with this illustration:

Today's comic in Hark, a vagrant! by Kate Beaton. See her full post {link url=http://www.harkavagrant.com/index.php?id=298}here{/link}

Today’s comic in Hark, a vagrant! by Kate Beaton. Copyright 2014.

But her parentage aside, Lovelace has reasons to be famous in her own right. In 1833, Lovelace met Charles Babbage, who was working on the Analytical Engine at the time. Lovelace is credited with developing an algorithm for Babbage’s engine that would calculate a sequence of rational numbers. But, not only that, at the time Babbage believed that the engine would be useful only for crunching numbers, but Lovelace was the first person to suggest that computers (or Analytical Engines, as it were) could be able to do other, more creative things, like compose music and play it as well.

Although video gaming was probably outside the scope of her predictions, it seems pretty clear that we wouldn’t be where we are today AT ALL without her contributions.

Want to read more about this awesome lady? Slate has a pretty rad article about her life here.

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