Ada Lovelace, world’s first computer programmer, inspires Google Doodle

10 Dec 2012

Writer and mathematician Ada Lovelace. Image via Wikimedia Commons

Internet search giant Google is tipping its hat to the world’s first computer programmer Ada Lovelace on the 197th anniversary of her birth with a Google Doodle on its homepage.

The Google Doodle – a stylised Google logo on Google’s homepage – features a drawing of Lovelace writing out a mathematical formula on a stream of paper that flows out to form the word ‘Google’.

Augusta Ada King, Countess of Lovelace, was born 10 December 1815, in London, England. The daughter of Romantic poet Lord Byron, Lovelace never knew her father, as he separated from her mother, Annabella Milbanke, when Lovelace was a month old.

It was Milbanke who first encouraged her daughter to study maths, partly in an effort to prevent her from becoming a delinquent poet like her father. Young Ada proved to have such a great aptitude for the subject that by her 20s, Charles Babbage, the inventor of some of the first modern computers, described her as ‘The Enchantress of Numbers’.

In 1842, Lovelace took on the task of translating an article about Babbage’s Analytical Machine from the original Italian. Throughout the work, she appended a series of notes that grew to three times the length of the article itself. Today, those notes are recognised as the world’s first computer programme.

Lovelace also predicted the development of more complex computers, saying “the engine might compose elaborate and scientific pieces of music of any degree of complexity or extent.”

Lovelace died in London at the age of 36, on 27 November 1852.

Ada Lovelace's 197th birthday

The Google Doodle in honour of Ada Lovelace

Tina Costanza was a journalist and sub-editor at Silicon Republic