lady milbanke

Can we talk about Ada Lovelace for a minute though because she is one of the biggest history bamfs that not many people have heard of, and if it weren’t for her, you wouldn’t be using the computer that you’re using now to read this eulogistic shit:

  • Firstly, look how bitchin’ she was. That sass was handed down to her by both her parents; the super intelligent Lady Anna Isabella Milbanke, who received a Cambridge University education in her own home in the very early 1800s, all whilst having a vagina, and the mad, bad and dangerous to know Lord George Byron (yes, that Lord Byron). Basically, Ada’s genetics were plucked straight from the tree of promise and flowered into the fruits of genius. Badass. 

  • Byron left Ada’s mother when Ada was only a baby, and her mother never forgave him. In an attempt to prevent Ada from turning out to be as ‘morally fractured’ as her father, her mother banned her from pursuing any of the Arts, instead insisting that she focus on Mathematics and Science. She also banned Ada from seeing any portrait of her father until she was 20, which is a bit weird, all things told. This didn’t really have the desired effect - although Ada became highly interested in both philosophies, she also developed a deep sense of interest and admiration for her father, whom she never met, and who died in Greece when she was 8. Essentially, her mother’s insistence that she become anything but alike to her father made her want to be like him even more. Rad. 

  • Armed with a wish to be more than just a Mathematician, Ada developed her own scientific approach which she called 'poetical science’, which essentially meant she used both her highly trained logistical skills and her inherent creativity to ask bigger questions, and get better answers. This is what later allowed her to see the potential in an already established computing machine (we shall discuss that later). Girl got shit done. A+.

  • When she was 27, she translated an article written by an Italian dude, Luigi Manabrea (yeah, the dude who later became President of Italy. Nbd), about Charles Babbage’s 'Analytical Engine’; a mechanical machine largely agreed by historians as the first functional computer. When translating the article, Ada added an extensive supplementary of notes, which she entitled 'Notes’ (she wasn’t one to fuck around). These notes contained what is generally recognised as the first computer algorithm.

  • She then began to write extensively on the capabilities of Babbage’s machine. While most engineers, including Babbage himself, only believed that the machine was capable of basic number crunching, Ada didn’t agree. She foresaw that, with the correct algorithm applied, the machine could be capable of many other tasks, such as composing music to 'any degree of complexity or extent’. She basically predicted Garageband. 

  • Her published algorithm, recognised as the first computer programme by most reputable scientists (we’ll get to that later) was an algorithm designed to allow the Analytical Engine to calculate Bernoulli numbers. I don’t even know how to explain that, mostly because I’m not Ada Lovelace, but rest assured that Bernoulli numbers are complicated as shit and it was all very impressive. Bitchin’. 

  • After her death, many small-brained and smaller-dicked male mathematicians of the time began to realise something with a dawning sense of horror. Ada Lovelace had been a woman, and she’d made huge contributions to their field. Luckily for them, she’d been largely overlooked in life due to the fact that she had a chromosomal deficiency known as 'being a biological female’, and so they were able to discredit her fairly easily. Although Babbage himself wrote that the algebraic formula used to create the algorithm was 'entirely her own’, apart from the Bernoulli number formula itself (which Babbage wrote out but Ada later corrected), and that he 'suggested that she add some notes to Manabrea’s memoir’, the selection of which 'was entirely her own’, many modern historians still maintain that Ada’s contributions were minimal. Babbage historian Bruce Collier wrote that Babbage himself authored the notes on Manabrea’s article, and that Ada had an 'amazing delusion’ about her own talents, and only a 'shallow understanding’ of the Analytical Engine. When did he write this? The enlightened, gender equal age of 1990. 

So, in a nutshell, Ada Lovelace was a complete and utter bamf. Throw into the works the fact that she became an expert in bird anatomy at the age of 12 because she wanted to design wings that would fly; she almost eloped at 18 but was found out; and she dismissed her children’s schoolteacher because he kept trying to have an affair with her, and you get the idea; Ada Lovelace has been sorely overlooked by history, largely because she committed the heinous crime of being born a woman.