Today is Ada Lovelace Day - a celebration of the achievements of a Victorian Mathematician who is often referred to as the first computer programmer for her work in the 1800s with inventor Charles Babbage.
To mark the occasion, the Science Museum in London opened a free exhibition today highlighting the work and life of the "Victorian pioneer of the computer age."
Ada Lovelace or Ada Gordon was the only child of infamous poet George Gordon (Lord Byron) and Annabella Milbanke. Lovelace was born on 10 December 1815. Since childhood, she had a fascination for mathematics and machines. She studied the subjects of maths and science at a time when it was difficult for any woman to have access to these subjects.
Lovelace was first introduced to Charles Babbage, the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics and the "Father of Computers" in 1833. She was given the name "Enchantress of Numbers" by Babbage. This was the time when Babbage had already achieved fame for his vision of a gigantic clockwork calculating machine. In 1842, Lovelace got a short article for translation. The article - written by the Italian mathematician Luigi Menabrea and describing the Analytical Engine - was to be published in England. Babbage assigned Lovelace the job of expanding the article as she was known for her good understanding of machines.
The article written by Lovelace was over three times the length of the original article. It described computer programs and prophetic-style observations on the future use of the machines, such as in creation of music, manipulation of symbols, etc. The programs written by Lovelace were found to be most detailed and complete, and were the first programs to be published in England. For writing such elaborate programs, she was later referred to as the "the first computer programmer".
The Science Museum exhibition will display Lovelace's portraits, letters and notes containing "the first published algorithm for the Analytical Engine" and demonstrating Lovelace's "understanding of the Engine's potential".
The exhibition will also display prototype Difference Engine No. 1 and subsequent Analytical Engine made by Charles Babbage.
"A series of complementary events – Evening Exchange – will explore the interfaces between art and science, technology and design, numbers and music." the museum informed.
The exhibition is open from 10 am to 6 pm daily until 31 March.