Ada Lovelace, considered by many to be the world’s first computer programmer, is remembered today through what’s now an annual event in her name each October 16th, aimed at improving the profile of female technologists and scientists.
Lovelace (1815-52), is renowned for her work on inventor Charles Babbage’s ‘analytical machine’ – one of the first general purpose computers. She was also a highly regarded mathmatician and scientist.
There isn’t full agreement over whether Lovelace was truly a programmer or not. She created extensive notes about Babbage’s Analytical Engine, and in one of the notes Lovelace describes what’s believed to be the first algorithm designed for use on a computer – the debate comes from whether she was merely reporting Babbage’s work or fully understood it herself. Nevertheless, she played an important role in its development, although the Engine was not completed in her lifetime.
A number of events will take place across the globe to celebrate the day.
UKIE, for example, is running an XX Game Jam in association with Ada Lovelace Day. The all-women event will be taking place on 26/27 October as part of the London Games Festival. The event will run from 6.30pm on Friday 26 October until 11pm, and then from 9am on 27 until 6.30pm on the Saturday 27 October. Food and refreshments will be provided on both days. They’re looking for programmers, producers, artists, designers, sound designers and composers, and you can apply whether you have direct experience in the games industry or not.
No doubt Lovelace’s work has directly inspired some to become a scientist or work with technology. Elsewhere, her influence will have filtered through the years, making it easier for women to work in the industry. Let’s hope this annual event carries that work on.
The Ada Initiative also works in Lovelace’s name. It’s a non-profit organisation that seeks to support women in open technology and culture. You can find out more here.
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