^^Ada Byron Lovelace, 1815-1852 Londra.


wp/Ada_Lovelace = Ada Byron, unica figlia riconosciuta di lord Byron.


1843 Ada discovers computer "language"

from: https://jeffreykegler.github.io/personal/timeline_v3 Parsing: a timeline. Version 3.1 Revision 9, 6 Jul 2023  by Jeffrey Kegler


In her translator's note on an article on Babbage's computer, Ada Lovelace becomes the first person to clearly see that

By 2023, this hardware/software distinction will be so well known as to seem obvious.

Ada is also the first to think of software in linguistic terms -- she originates the idea that, in writing software, we communicate with the computer, and that the means that we use to do that is a "language".


Lovelace 1843: Ada Augusta, Countess of Lovelace. "Notes" on her translation of Sketch of The Analytical Engine Invented by Charles Babbage by Menabrea, L. F. Scientific Memoirs Volume 3, September 1843. https://www.fourmilab.ch/babbage/sketch.html. Accessed 11 October 2018.

A new, a vast, and a powerful language is developed for the future use of analysis, in which to wield its truths so that these may become of more speedy and accurate practical application for the purposes of mankind than the means hitherto in our possession have rendered possible. Thus not only the mental and the material, but the theoretical and the practical in the mathematical world, are brought into more intimate and effective connexion with each other.

Here "analysis" means the branch of mathematics that studies limits and continuous functions, and which includes calculus.


The most important ideas come to permeate the culture, to the detriment of the reputation of those who discover them. As of 2018, small children understand that, in order to play a computer game, they need not just the game platform (hardware), but also the game itself (software). Similarly, the idea that the medium for creating software is a "programming language" seems trivially obvious. Ada's discoveries are so deeply embedded in 2023 culture, that it is hard to realize that there was once a time in which they were, in fact, discoveries.

It is hard to appreciate in 2023 how shocking Ada's ideas were in 1843. We experience no crisis of faith when we use our smartphone to calculate a square root. But for someone in 1843, doing square roots meant thinking complex thoughts, and it seemed obvious that any entity that could think complex thoughts must also have a soul. Your cellphone would have been, literally, a "Frankenstein" experience for most people in 1843, and they would wonder whether you could remove its battery without committing murder.



1. The controversy over whether Ada actually wrote the first computer programs is not important for our purposes. For most new machines, the first "programs" are written by the electrical engineers for their "smoke tests", and it is not unlikely that Babbage had written programs for his Calculating Engine before Ada. All of which misses the point of Ada's contribution, which is to be the first to realize what software is. It is the difference between being the first person to build and fly a working airplane, and being the first person to lay out the foundations of aerodynamics.