Happy Ada Lovelace Day! Who Was She?

This year Ada Lovelace Day is today! In celebration, sites around the world are spotlighting women in math and science. To learn more about this and read some amazing stories, visit the site Finding Ada.

I thought I’d instead revamp a blog post I did last year on just who she is and give a round up of awesome Ada news that happened this past year.

If you’re a new visitor to the site, you might first be wondering why I care about Lady Lovelace? Well, besides thinking she was made of awesome, she’s my main secondary character in my time travel romance MUST LOVE BREECHES, for which I just found an agent, so it will be on submission with publishers soon. I purposely picked 1834 as the year my heroine time travels to so she could meet Lady Lovelace when she was still single (and known as Miss Byron).

So, who was she?

Steampunk lovers know her as one of the character’s in William Gibson and Bruce Sterling‘s alternate history novel The Difference Engine, where Charles Babbage finishes his invention and the computer age is ushered in much earlier.

Computer programmers might have heard of her, because she’s credited as being the world’s first computer programmer. In fact, the United States Defense Department named their new computer language, unveiled back in 1980, ADA.

Want to really understand the power and importance of Lovelace and Babbage’s work? Watch this great video giving the background and also plans to build the Analytical Engine.

Did you know, though, that she was the only legitimate daughter of that bad boy of English poetry, Lord Byron?

Another cool fact: she actually, as a child, tried to invent a steam-powered horse! She was so steampunk! She had her scientific pen pals send her dead birds so she could measure wing span to body mass. I’m not making this up.

Besides The Difference Engine, she’s also a main character in this novel: Lord Byron’s Novel: The Evening Land (P.S.). I came across this at a library sale, talk about serendipity! It’s an imagined novel of Byron’s but set within two different story frames: one present day emails of a researcher who has ‘discovered’ this lost novel, and ‘notes and letters’ written by Ada about her attempts to recover the novel and hide it from her mother.

She’s a main character of a webcomic by Sydney Padua called 2D Goggles, or The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage. This past year they announced the comics will finally be in book form! The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage- BOOK!. They also now have a Lovelace & Babbage app for the iPad!

And someone made a LEGO mini figurine!

Are you now scratching your head wondering why you’d never heard of her? (If you already have, yay!).

This last year in Lady Lovelace land:

Totally sold? Halloween’s coming up! Here’s a page on Lady Lovelace and how you can make an Ada Lovelace costume for Halloween

Blog/News posts and other cool linkages:

Biographies:

Weekend Grab Bag – From Writing Tips to Stormtrooper Hygiene

Song playing right now on my playlist: “Begin the Begin,” by R.E.M.

NEWS: I will have some awesome news to report next week about MUST LOVE BREECHES (re: status in Query Land) and STEAM ME UP, RAWLEY finaled in its first contest (and the first one it entered), The Golden Pen, ironically beating out MUST LOVE BREECHES by less than a point (.7)

Writing and the Writing Life:

Browncoats:

Ada Byron Lovelace

  • This recently came across Publisher’s Marketplace: “James Essinger’s ADA’S THINKING MACHINE, exploring two interwoven human stories – the story of a man, Charles Babbage (1791-1871) and that of a woman, twenty-four years his junior, Ada Lovelace (1815-1851) and their involvement in the Analytical Engine, to Gibson Square, for publication in July 2013 (world).” SQUEE!!! (that last part was me of course, not PM) Now if only publishers would be convinced that MUST LOVE BREECHES could tie in with this :)

In Geekdom:

Monday Grab Bag: Critiques, Babbage and Nerds!

Some articles, tweets and sites I ran across this morning that I thought others might be interested in.

Tabitha makes an excellent point on her post today Writer Musings: How To Get The Most Out Of A Critique, Part Three: if you don’t know the heart of your story, you are not ready for feedback.

On the twitterfarm, John Graham-Cumming (@jgrahamc) posted a picture of punch card program written by Charles Babbage for his Analytical Engine. His tweet:  On this stack of punched cards sits a program written by Charles Babbage and never executed. Time to fix that.

To fellow geeks, some UK folks have created a Nerdy Day Trip website. To see the potential, see the sites in England and read the About page. If you just look at the US you will not truly appreciate it. So, my nerdy and geeky US friends, let’s add some cool places!