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Ada Lovelace

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Date: 2020
Publisher: Gale, a Cengage Company
Document Type: Biography
Length: 650 words
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About this Person
Born: December 10, 1815 in London, United Kingdom
Died: November 27, 1852 in United Kingdom
Nationality: British
Occupation: Applied mathematician
Other Names: Lovelace, Ada; Lovelace, Augusta Ada; Lovelace, Ada Byron; Lovelace, Ada Byron, Countess of Lovelace; Lovelace, Ada Augusta, Countess of; Byron, Augusta Ada; Byron, Ada, Countess of Lovelace; King, Augusta Ada; Byron, Ada; Lovelace, Ada Augusta; Augusta Byron, Countess of Lovelace; Ada Byron Lovelace, Countess of Lovelace; Ada Byron King, Countess of Lovelace; King, Ada Byron; Byron King, Ada; Countess of Lovelace; Ada Byron, Countess of Lovelace; Ada Augusta, Countess of Lovelace; Augusta Ada King, Countess of Lovelace; Lovelace, Augusta Ada Byron King; King, Ada Augusta, Countess of Lovelace
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Ada Lovelace English mathematician Ada Lovelace was the first computer programmer. English mathematician Ada Lovelace was the first computer programmer. © Alamy Stock Photo/GL Archive

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Main Ideas

  • Ada Lovelace was a British mathematician and computer programmer.
  • Lovelace studied math and science from an early age.
  • She became friends with mathematician and inventor Charles Babbage.
  • Lovelace’s notes on one of Babbage’s inventions explain a computer program.
  • Today Lovelace is thought of as the first computer programmer.

Ada Lovelace was a British mathematician who lived during the nineteenth century. Many consider her the first computer programmer. This is a person who creates and tests programs for computers. Lovelace’s ideas about computers were very advanced for her time.

Early Life

Lovelace was born on December 10, 1815. Her father was the famous poet Lord Byron. Her mother was Lady Anne Isabella Milbanke Byron.

Lovelace grew up in London, England. She never knew her father. He left shortly after she was born. He died when she was just eight years old.

Lovelace’s mother wanted her daughter to have a good education. Lovelace began studying math and science at the age of four. Few women studied those subjects at the time.

Lovelace had a natural talent for math and science. She also had a wonderful imagination. For example, she had an idea for a flying machine when she was 12. The machine she imagined was a steam-powered horse with wings.

Studying Early Computers

Lovelace met a mathematician named Charles Babbage when she was about 17. They became friends even though Babbage was older than Lovelace. Babbage and Lovelace shared a love of numbers. They often wrote to each other to share ideas.

Babbage was also an inventor. He created a machine called the difference engine. He showed Lovelace how it worked.

The difference engine was a very early computer. It could perform mathematical calculations. Many people call Babbage the “father of the computer” because of his invention.

The First Computer Programmer

Babbage invented a second machine that could perform more difficult calculations. An Italian engineer (a person who uses math and science to design and build machines) wrote an article about the new invention. Lovelace was asked to translate (change from one language to another) the article into English.

Lovelace translated the article between 1842 and 1843. She added her own notes while doing so. Her notes were longer and more detailed than the original article.

Lovelace’s notes explained how the device could be used to calculate numbers. They described a way for the machine to follow a set of instructions that would repeat in a loop. Many consider her notes on this topic to be the first computer program.

Ahead of Her Time

Lovelace believed that computers could one day do more than calculate numbers. She thought they could be used to work with words, pictures, and sounds. She had these ideas long before modern computers were invented.

Few people realized how important Lovelace’s ideas were when she was alive. Her ideas were discovered about 100 years after her death. They became very important to people who worked with computers in the 1950s.

Lovelace has been honored for her work in modern times. A whole computer language was named “Ada” in her honor in 1980.

Personal Life

Lovelace married William King in 1835. They had three children together.

In 1838 King became the Earl of Lovelace. An earl is a British nobleman. Lovelace became known as the Countess of Lovelace. A countess is the wife of an earl or a count.

Lovelace had health problems from the late 1830s until her death. She died on November 27, 1852.

In Lovelace’s Time

  • 1815: Lord Byron publishes his poems “Parisina” and “Siege of Corinth.”
  • 1820: Maine becomes the 23rd state in the United States.
  • 1829: The first Braille book for blind readers is published.
  • 1837: Queen Victoria becomes the queen of the United Kingdom.
  • 1840: The first postage stamp is issued.
  • 1845: The rubber band is invented.
  • 1851: The New York Times is started under the name New York Daily Times.


Family: Daughter of Lord Byron (a poet) and Lady Anne Isabella Milbanke Byron; married William King, 1835; children: three. Education: Studied under tutors including William Frend, Mary Somerville, and Charles Babbage; studied mathematics with University of London professor Augustus de Morgan.

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Source Citation   

Gale Document Number: GALE|JHGCFN845370830