back to article Science Museum celebrates Ada Lovelace

Today is Ada Lovelace Day, and to mark that and this year's bicentenary of the birth of the "Victorian pioneer of the computer age", the Science Museum in London opened its doors this morning on a free exhibition celebrating her life and works. On show will be Lovelace's notes, letters and portraits, as well as Charles Babbage …

  1. Known Hero
    IT Angle

    I apologise if I missing an important nugget of information but .....

    Her Analytical Engine algorithm – to calculate Bernoulli numbers – was later hailed as the world's first computer programme, although it was never tested in practice.

    Why not test it now ?

    *Icon because is it a program or not ;)

    1. Thecowking

      Re: I apologise if I missing an important nugget of information but .....

      Did we ever make a full analytical engine? I know they recreated the difference engine, but the analytical engine was orders of magnitude larger.

      We can probably simulate one though, they could test on that.

      1. Jagged

        Re: Did we ever make a full analytical engine?

        No. The complete thing would have been the size of a large estate vehicle. I believe Babbage had plans for larger ones that would have filled the average pumphouse! It would have been amazing.

        1. Bob Wheeler

          Re: Did we ever make a full analytical engine?

          The other week BBC4 (I think) showed an excelent documentary on her.

          With the anyalitical engine, they said the 'standard' machie would have been around 45 foot long, but plans for a large more powerful would have been well over the 100 foot lenght. The difference being the amount of memory(!)

          If this had been built, then steam punk would have ruled!!

    2. hammarbtyp

      Re: I apologise if I missing an important nugget of information but .....

      was later hailed as the world's first computer programme, although it was never tested in practice.

      Wow, invented vaporware too. Clearly well ahead of her time

    3. MrHorizontal

      Re: I apologise if I missing an important nugget of information but .....

      It was actually Turing himself who recognised what Ada Lovelace had written, proclaimed her as the first programmer and that the Analytical Engine was Turing complete.

      Vapourware or otherwise, I believe it's our duty to establish once and for all that Britain, in Babbage's Analytical Engine invented the computer (and not this usurper, Zuse who arguably created a computer roughly the same time as Turing created the Bombe), by building it a model of it and actually running Lovelace's Bernoulli program on it properly.

  2. J P
    Thumb Up


    That's one day of the children's half term taken care of.

    1. Yugguy

      Re: Excellent

      Aye my daughter would love this. Old machinery seems to have a strange fascination for her.

  3. frank ly

    Early developments?

    She seems to be holding a mobile phone. Did it work?

    1. Stoneshop Silver badge

      Re: Early developments?

      Probably not, given that Bell and Marconi hadn't gotten around to doing their respective stuff.

    2. Stoneshop Silver badge

      Re: Early developments?

      BTW, whether it worked or not, it looks like it's a Nokia 6310. Probably sent back in time by Nicola Tesla.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Didn't Miss Lovelace program Deep Thought or am I getting confused with something else here, possibly Deep Blue ?

    1. Hollerith 1

      Because let's remind ourselves

      That women are really about sex.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Because let's remind ourselves

        Don't knock sex, you should try it sometime.

  5. Mint Sauce
    Thumb Up

    But most importantly...

    She fought crime!

    1. Graham Marsden

      Re: But most importantly...

      Pah! Abraham Lincoln fought Vampires... ;-)

      1. g e

        And The Clash fought the law

        (But the law won)

    2. Francis Boyle Silver badge

      Re: But most importantly...

      She helped the Doctor fight the [SPOILERS REDACTED]. Probably. Some time soon.

      Which of course explains the phone. Are there any pictures of her wearing sunglasses?

  6. Scott Broukell

    Support call

    As has already been pointed out above she can quite clearly be seen using a smart phone in the colour photograph supplied. Well I don't mind telling you, and in no uncertain terms, I am now fuming and very much at the end of my tether! Why? (I hear you ask), because I put in a support call to her nearly 200 years ago and there she is blatantly chatting away to some supplier or other no doubt. Well, these difference engines don't just fix themselves you know, and yes, before you ask, I have tried, several times, dismantling and re-assembling the entire device and to no avail whatsoever!

  7. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. Trumpet Winsock IIIrd

      Re: "Lovelace's potential was perhaps never fully realised...

      You're forgetting that he also invented the "Disque Bleu" brand of cigarette which is still available to this day.

      1. Pompous Git Silver badge

        Re: "Lovelace's potential was perhaps never fully realised...

        But not in Australia, sadly. No French cigarettes can be legally sold here.

  8. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

    Ada Lovelace Day

    and no Google Doodle? Shame on them

  9. dvd

    I went to the Science Museum a couple of years ago specifically to see the difference engine. I said to a member of staff "Where is the difference engine." She looked baffled for a moment, then pointed to a steam engine and said "There's an engine over there."

    I've not been back. It's all too superficial.

  10. Your alien overlord - fear me

    Why celebrate today, it's neither her birthday or deathday?

    It's also good to see her mum pushing her into science instead of the madness that is writing/poetry etc. If only more mums today were like that.

    1. Amorous Cowherder

      How about not pushing kids into anything but instead giving them a wide set of interests and seeing which ones they like the most and then encouraging them to pursue what they really love most?

      I've been a techie since I could walk but my daughter loves biology to bits, I've had to learn to suppress my ultra-squeamish tendencies in order to encourage her. You're talking about a bloke who threw up in 5th year biology class when he was asked to dissect...a sprat! Yes, I didn't even have the stomach to carve up a tiny pilchard sized fish without vomiting. so heaven knows where my daughter got her love of biology from!

      1. Tony S

        @Amorous Cowherder

        I did A level biology; it was a class of 22 (I vaguely remember), 19 XX, 2 XY and one that we weren't entirely sure about.

        I missed a couple of important lessons for personal reasons, so was trying to catch up. I was sat at one of the benches in the lab, with a rat in advanced stage of dissection, my note pad, a sandwich, a Mars bar and a cup of tea.

        I was quite happily poking around the squishy bits, occasionally slurping tea, masticating bread or munching on the choccy, then adding to the diagram I was creating illustrating the various bits I'd seen. I'd also started preparing some slides of some of the cells ready to be stained for microscope work.

        The teacher was known as Bio Bill (Mr Williams); and he was brilliant. He approached me and asked if I would put the food away and concentrate on the work at hand. When I looked puzzled, he pointed out all of my classmates standing outside of the room, puking up!

    2. Jason Bloomberg

      Why October 13?

  11. Slacker@work
    Paris Hilton

    Mildly confused...

    Ada Lovelace day and No Bra Day coincide, did she invent the bra too or maybe was she the first to burn one (if they were arround at that point)??

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A bit of pro-women bias

    It seeems strange to honour her more than Babbage. At the end of the day she is a minor figure with no lasting contribution if she was a man would we even know her name?

    1. Mike 16 Silver badge

      Re: A bit of pro-women bias

      Did you read the article? Her observation of the computer's ability to manipulate abstract symbols, rather than only numerical quantities, is a watershed. Unless you use that powerful computer in your pocket _solely_ for computing logs and tangents and the like, you are using computing much more in her vision than Babbage's.

      This is not to take away from Babbage, who is also properly celebrated as well. Science and Engineering are not zero-sum games.

      Beer because Menabrea.

      1. Pompous Git Silver badge

        Re: A bit of pro-women bias

        And not to forget her contributions to those important sciences of phrenology and animal magnetism. What she called "poetical-science".

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nov 9! Nov 9!

    Props to Ada, but can we please get some respect for Hedy Lamarr, who managed to not only be a techie wizard (invention of spread-spectrum frequency hopping) but also managed a more-than-respectable side line as a major Hollywood star. And all this after escaping Nazi Germany disguised as a maid.

    When I see the talentless oiks who clog up Hollywood today, I reflect that Lamarr would crushed them all.

    Born Nov 9, 1914.

  14. Wiltshire

    Bit of an off-topic, but I'm still wondering when Babbage will get proper canonization. After all, he is still the patron saint of project managers, and his was the first IT project in the UK. Three ticks on the KPIs? Yes, late, over budget, and not working.

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