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:
- This month a new book was announced: “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).”
- Lady Lovelace made The Guardian’s list: The Guardian’s Open 20: fighters for internet freedom
- Initially it was reported that Steve Job’s biographer will write Lady Lovelace’s biography next (which I was doing a happy dance about), but then it was reported that it will be about the history of digital information and so she will only be how the book opens.
- In the weird department, she got a giant tunnel boring machine named after her in the UK
- During the SOPA battle, she got a nice shout out from HuffPo: SOPA Blackout: Why Wikipedia Needs Women
- The Guardian did an article called Game changers: the women who make video games which had a shout out to Lady Lovelace at the end
- A group of scientists will soon be starting a ten-year project to construct Babbage’s Analytical Engine
- The first AdaCamp was held in Melbourne, Australia
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:
- A theatre in Philly will be producing the play Childe Byron about her struggle to learn more about her father, Lord Byron.
- A delightful peek at some of the letters she wrote to Michael Faraday
- City A.M., Why Steve Jobs owes thanks to Ada Lovelace
- BBC broadcast, Lovelace
- Beth Dunn, Lady Ada At Your Service, who didn’t know she was channeling Ada as a child
- Virtual Victorian, ADA LOVELACE AND THE DIFFERENCE ENGINE…
- Sci-fi movie, Conceiving Ada
- The Bride of Science: Romance, Reason, and Byron’s Daughter - most comprehensive, IMO
- Ada, the Enchantress of Numbers: Prophet of the Computer Age
- Ada, Countess of Lovelace: Byron’s Legitimate Daughter - not my fave. Mostly about her parents.