Ada Lovelace Day celebrates women in science, technology, maths and engineering also known as STEM. The day’s key aim is to promote inspirational women in the STEM industry to help inspire the next generation of women. The event was created by Suw Charman-Anderson, a Journalist from London who in 2009 recruited bloggers to help promote and educate the public about people like Ada Lovelace. Initially, the event was created due to the lack of female interests in these sectors and in 2010 more than 2000 people supported the project with support and the amount of activities increasing year by year.
Who was Ada Lovelace?
Ada Lovelace was born Ada Gordon in 1815, to a poet father and a mathematician mother who raised her under a strict regimen of science, logic, and mathematics. Ada herself from childhood had a fascination with machines, designing fanciful boats and steam flying machines, and poring over the diagrams of the new inventions of the Industrial Revolution that filled the scientific magazines of the time.
After a chance encounter with Charles Babbage, an accomplished professor of mathematics, they became close and lifelong friends, Babbage described her as “that Enchantress who has thrown her magical spell around the most abstract of Sciences, and has grasped it with a force which few masculine intellects could have exerted over it,” or an another occasion, as “The Enchantress of Numbers”.
Ada was intrigued by Babbage’s plans to build a complicated device he called the “Analytical Engine”, which was to combine the array of adding gears of his earlier Difference Engine with an elaborate punch card operating system. It was never built, but the design had all the essential elements of a modern computer.
In 1842 she translated an article describing the Analytical Engine by the Italian mathematician Luigi Menabrea, for publication in England. Babbage asked her to expand the article, “as she understood the machine so well”. The final article is over three times the length of the original and contains several early ‘computer programs,’ as well as striking observations on the potential uses of the machine, including the manipulation of symbols and creation of music. Although Babbage and his assistants had sketched out programs for his engine before, Lovelace’s are the most elaborate and complete, and the first to be published. This is why she is often referred to as “the first computer programmer”. Babbage himself spoke highly of her mathematical powers, and of her peculiar capability — higher he said that of any one he knew, to prepare the descriptions connected with his calculating machine.”
Ada Lovelace died of cancer at 36, just a few years after the publication of “Sketch of the Analytical Engine, with notes from the Translator”. The Analytical Engine remained just a vision until Lovelace’s notes became one of the documents to inspire Alan Turing’s work on the first modern computers in the 1940s.
Why is her legacy so important?
Ada was a visionary, her analytical but creative mind understood and pioneered the idea of a computer 100 years prior to the first machine actually being built. She was a visionary and an inspiration, maybe not in her own time, but to thousands of men and women today.
Getting more girls into Technology is essential all year round but we use the second Tuesday in October every year to celebrate the women, past, present and future, who dedicate their lives to the fields of Science and Technology. Using this opportunity to educate and inspire those who are unsure of their choices or maybe haven’t even considered a career in Tech. Here at Baltic Training, we aim to inspire as many girls as possible to pursue careers in tech, we do this in numerous ways, including our Women in Tech campaign where we feature case study’s and interviews with some of the leading ladies in the industry. Find them here!
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