The second Tuesday of every October is Ada Lovelace Day (ALD), celebrating the achievements of women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
ALD is celebrated to give women a higher profile in the sciences, helping to create new role models to encourage young women to go into STEM careers and support those already there. Ada Lovelace is the perfect figurehead for women – she led a rich and varied life as well as being an absolute genius.
So, I’d like to tell you six things about Ada that prove she was more than just the very first computer programmer. If it wasn’t for Lovelace, we might not even have computers!
But if only you knew more about this First Lady of Technology, you’ll see why she is such an inspiration:
- Technology wasn’t ready for her
It took an entire century before her writings were even recognized. Lovelace’s notes on the “analytical engine” weren’t published until 1843, but the world’s first actual computer was invented in 1953. This was after B.V. Bowden republished her work in “Faster Than Thought: A Symposium on Digital Computing Machines.” The 1950s heralded the advent of the computer science field, so Lovelace was far ahead of her time.
- She was an artist
Lovelace is often compared to Leonardo da Vinci. She wasn’t a painter, though. Instead, at the age of 12, she actually thought of a way to create a “flying machine.” Yes, just like Leonardo had outlined in his own notes. She came about the idea after studying the anatomy of birds, considering certain materials capable of withstanding flight. She illustrated meticulous plans for a winged apparatus resembling that of a Pegasus with a “steam engine” inside, allowing a person to ride on the back and fly the skies.
- Her father was a famous poet
Talk about being at opposite ends of the spectrum. We don’t associate mathematics – or technology, for that matter – with Shakespeare. But, no, the Bard didn’t sire the counting Countess. Rather it was an English poet by the name of Lord George Gordon Byron. You can see a glimpse of his literary passion in her fantastical mind along with the numerical power and potential – which she got from her mother. (Lord Byron referred to Ada Lovelace’s mother as the “Princess of Parallelograms.”)
- She had an unlikely best friend
During her tenure as a mathematician, mentored by Charles Babbage (the “father” of the modern computer), she definitely got to meet the thinkers and innovators of her society. But she died young. At the age of 37, she had the pleasure and company of a few friends, one most notable to sit by her bedside and read to her. Three months before she died one read – at her request – an excerpt from his popular 1848 novel “Dombey and Son.”
Who was that friend? None other than Charles Dickens.
- She loved literature, but computers loved her more
Lovelace predicted that computers could do more than just work with numbers. Lovelace’s theories are the reason why it’s possible for a computer to write a work of fiction, among other things, using analytics and calculations. She even made it possible for a computer to think at a game of chess or perhaps paint like Picasso. And even play like Mozart.
- The US military loved her, too
Around the 1970s, the US Department of Defense built a highly developed computer programming language designed to retire hundreds of older versions the military had used in the past. Years later, countless industries – aviation, health care, transportation, infrastructure, space, and even financial – use this same exact computer language. The name of the computer language? Simply “Ada.”
Every day is Ada Lovelace Day
For women everywhere, and at Software AG, every day is Ada Lovelace Day. Women are a big part of the fabric of our company’s rich tapestry: Nearly a quarter of our company leadership is female. Two of our outstanding leaders have just been shortlisted for the Women in IT Awards in Asia: Anneliese Schulz, President APJ, for “Transformation Leader of the Year,” and Prachi Shah, Customer Success Manager APJ, for “Digital Leader of the Year.”
Also, Software AG has just been named as one of the best workplaces for women, ranked among the top 50 companies to work for women in India. We are proud of all our employees for co-creating the culture that encourages, recognizes, empowers, values diversity and actively prioritizes inclusion where every woman can feel connected, elevated, and celebrated.
Happy Ada Lovelace Day!