Ada Lovelace: Facts and Information

Here are some facts about Ada Lovelace.

  • Ada Lovelace was a 19th century English writer and mathematician. She worked on Charles Babbage‘s analytical engine computer and is often described as the earliest computer programmer.

  • She was born in 1815 in London, the daughter of the poet Lord Byron. As a child, she was often ill, and had to stay in bed for almost a year after getting measles.
  • Her mother persuaded her to study maths and science, afraid that Ada might go mad if she studied poetry. She later became interested in electrical experiments as a way to prevent madness.
  • As a child, Ada Lovelace was interested in flying. She made wings for herself out of different materials, including wire and paper, and wrote a book about her research.

  • Lovelace became friends with the Mathematician Charles Babbage. She wrote about how his analytical engine might calculate numbers and Babbage helped her to study maths at London University.
  • Lovelace spent almost a year in 1842 writing her plan for the analytical engine. She also suggested that machines could create designs, compose music and perform scientific experiments.
  • She met the mathematician and writer, Mary Somerville, who became an inspiration to her. Somerville also introduced Ada to William King, who she later married.
  • She became friends with several famous scientists and writers of the time, including Charles Dickens and Wheatstone, inventor of the telegraph.
  • She had to publish her work under her initials, as women were not seen to be intellectual.
  • She died from cancer in 1852, at just 36 years old. At her own request, she was buried next to her well known father in a Nottinghamshire churchyard.
  • The US department of defence computer language is named Ada. The British Computer Society awards the Ada Lovelace medal annually, and each October, Ada Lovelace Day recognizes women in maths, science and engineering.

What next? Discover facts about other famous mathematicians.