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    Ada Lovelace was arguably the first computer scientist, and is credited  with the first algorithm designed to run on a “computer”: the Analytical  Engine devised by Charles Babbage. Unlike her mentor, Lovelace saw the  potential for computers beyond basic manipulation of numbers, and had  the Analytical Engine been constructed at the time, her algorithm (to  calculate Bernoulli numbers) would have run correctly.

    225px-Ada_lovelace.jpgSince the Analytical Engine would have been “Turing Complete” had it been constructed, it can be said to be the first computer; though mechanical and not electronic in nature.


    Lovelace was born the only legitimate child of Lord Byron (with whom she had no relationship), and grew up under a domineering mother from whom she tried to run away. Talented as a musician and poet, Lovelace was in many ways typical of the engineers and inventors of the Victorian age. It was her persistence in following questions to their conclusion, rather than an inherent “genius” that defined her as a scientist.


    Her interests in mathematics, electromagnetism and importantly logic, flourished under the instruction of Augustus de Morgan. It was the grounding in logic that made her perhaps the only person who fully understood Babbage’s work. Though it is often disputed that the early work carried out by Babbage and Lovelace did not constitute computing as we know it today, it is an interesting “what if” of history to consider what may have happened had the Analytical Engine been completed.


    Over 100 years after Ada Lovelace’s early death from cancer at the age of 36, punch cards such as the ones that Babbage and Lovelace used to store programs were still in use, and electromechanical computers had already proved themselves vital in the field of code breaking during WW2. To see for yourself the complexity and amazing foresight of Lovelace’s work, see her “Sketch of the Analytical Engine Invented by Charles Babbage, Esq.”