Ada Lovelace was born on the 10th December 1815 as the only child of the infamous poet Lord Byron and his wife Anne Isabella Byron (formerly Milbanke, Lady Wentworth). Byron separated from his wife a month after Ada was born and left England forever four months later, dying of disease in the Greek War of Independence when Ada was eight years old. Ada’s mother loathed Byron and, determined her daughter didn’t inherit her father’s madness, sought to develop in Ada an interest in mathematics and logic by employing the best tutors she could find for the young girl including Mary Somerville and Augustus De Morgan.

Naturally bright and inquisitive the young Ada became interested in science, nature and technology but she was often ill and spent large parts of her childhood confined to bed. During this period she became fascinated in flight, designing a mechanical bird with flapping wings and determined to write a book called Flyology with the intention of creating a steam powered mechanism enabling her to fly.

This full-scale model of Charles Babbage’s Difference Engine No. 2, designed, but never actually built, in the late 1840s, weighs 5 tons, is 11 feet long and seven feet high, and has 8,000 parts. Compared to a Dell Desktop from 2017

When she was eighteen she attended a party thrown by the mathematician, inventor, engineer and philosopher Charles Babbage at which he was presenting a version of his mechanised counting machine, The Difference Engine. 

Ada was fascinated by the machine and, unlike everyone else who thought it an amusing curiosity, saw the machine’s potential. She became friends with Babbage and in 1842 Lovelace was commissioned to translate from french a paper written on Babbage’s much more ambitious machine, The Analytical Engine.

This took her a year and in doing so she created a set of notes to the paper with note G including a method for instructing the machine to calculate a series of Bernoulli numbers. Ada Lovelace had created the first published computer program.

Ada Lovelace was the first person to see the potential of computers. At a time when even the inventor saw computing machines as just large scale number crunching devices Ada Lovelace imagined machines able to compose music, create artworks or many other tasks. Her insight, in 1843, was that numbers could represent entities other than simply quantity and therefore machines making the shift from calculation to computation, a century before those ideas could be realised. She continued to develop her ideas about technology and the mathematics of the natural world, referring to her approach as “poetical science” and herself as an “analyst and metaphysician”.

In 1852 she fell ill again and this time did not recover. Aged only thirty-six, the same age as her father when he died, she passed away on November 27th. At her request she was buried next to the father she never knew at the Church of St.Mary Magdalene in Hucknall, Nottinghamshire.