Ada Lovelace, born in 1815, was the daughter of celebrated British poet Lord Byron, but she wasn’t a poet herself. She was the world’s first computer programmer. We think of computers as a recent invention, but people were toying with the idea of “computing machines” in the mid-19th century when Lovelace was alive. Lovelace’s mathematical genius was apparent at a young age and caught the attention of Cambridge professor Charles Babbage. Babbage was working to design early computing machines that he hoped would be able to quickly solve math problems. Lovelace, his protégée, wrote some suggestions as to how to program the machines to calculate a specific sequence of numbers.
In addition to designing this early computer program, she also was first to suggest that these computers might be able to do more than, well, compute. She envisioned them doing everything that could possibly be represented by a string of numbers, from producing images to composing music. Quite the visionary.
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