When you think of the world’s first computer programmer, chances are the image that pops into your head is not the aristocratic daughter of one of the world’s most flamboyant characters of the 19th Century.
Augusta Ada King, Countess of Lovelace, was born on 10 December 1815, as Augusta Ada Byron.
She was the only legitimate daughter of Lord Byron, the famous poet, political figure and philanderer, and his wife Lady Anne Isabella Noel Byron.
A trailblazer for women in STEM, Ada was educated rigorously in mathematics and science at the insistence of her mother, who believed these disciplines could be the antidote to inheriting Lord Byron’s proclivity towards excesses of various kinds. During her teenage years, Ada’s exceptional talent for Mathematics became apparent.
She became the protégée of Charles Babbage, known as the ‘father of the computer’ who is credited with originating the concept of the digital programmable computer. He nicknamed Ada the ‘Enchantress of Number’.
Lovelace spent over nine months translating the Italian Mathematician Luigi Menabrea’s article on Babbage’s newest proposed machine, the Analytical Engine.
Along with the translation, Ada added several pages of notes of her own, which were longer than the original paper.
In her notes, Ada realised the potential of the device extended far beyond its original intention of number crunching, and anticipated the implications of modern computing – over 100 years before they were realised.
Ada and her significant contribution to technology has been largely forgotten by the academic community and the general public.
In the interactive theatre performance, Ada. Ada. Ada., Lovelace tells her story using an LED dress that she operates live on stage - using a wearable tech satin glove.
The performance aims to combat the gender and skills gap in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths), and has been described by Eamonn Scott, General Manager of Intel Ireland:
“Through Ada.Ada.Ada., audiences can look with a unique lens on the kinds of challenges that the future may hold – a future that will rely on the collision of arts, technology, innovation, storytelling and human experience”.
Learn more about the fascinating story of Ada Lovelace, or purchase tickets to the first ever Australian performance of Ada. Ada. Ada. in Llewellyn Hall at ANU.
By Ellen Parsons