Happy Birthday Ada Lovelace!

Ada Lovelace
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by
on December 10, 2012
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If you’re one of the millions of users that use Google daily chances are you’ve noticed today’s Google Doodle! (above)

Well my friends, today is Ada Lovelace’s 197th birthday! but who’s Ada Lovelace?

Every piece of technology that involves some sort of computation, whether it be your smartphone or your laptop, it’s here thanks to the intelligence of this woman (and a few other mathematicians).

Ada Lovelace or Augusta Ada King, Countess of Lovelace as she’s otherwise known was an English mathematician known for her work on Charles Babbage’s early mechanical general-purpose computer. Her notes on Babbage’s mechanical engine include what is recognised as the first algorithm intended to be processed by a machine (and that’s way back in 1842/3). Because of this, she is often considered the world’s first computer programmer.

Not only was she very intelligent and worked on such an incredibly complicated algorithm, she was also the first person that foresaw that computers would be more than just number crunching, calculating machines.

It’s actually amazing when you realise that the computer or smartphone that you’re reading this on, is currently calculating numbers at lightening fast speeds just to display a simple bit of text. We’ve come a long way from computers that ran on hundreds of vacuum tubes, and had memory in the form of reels of paper tape and thanks to Moore’s Law (the observation that over the history of computing hardware, the number of transistors on integrated circuits doubles approximately every two years) we can almost predict what sort of systems we’d be able to run in 100 or so years – well, we used to be able to we’re currently exceeding Gordon E. Moore’s original prediction I’m unsure on how much, but it’s pretty impressive. (something about integrated circuits being made about the size of an atom?)

 

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