10 Reasons to Know Who Ada Lovelace Was

October 8 marked Ada Lovelace Day, a celebration of the life and work of an important and influential woman. What’s disappointing is that Ada Lovelace is almost always forgotten in history. I didn’t learn about her in my history class; it was just chance that I read a book about her. This is disappointing because the world we live in now would be so different without Ada’s contributions to math, science, and technology.

 

1. Her father was Lord Byron.

Ada was Lord Byron’s only daughter and she’s just as fascinating as her talented father. While Ada didn’t have much of a relationship with him, she refused to live in her father’s shadow. While he became a master of poetry, she became an empress of mathematical language.

 

2. She proved that pretty women can be smart too.

Ada Lovelace was considered beautiful, handsome, pretty, and all the attractive compliments of her time. Even when you Google her name, painted portraits of her are gorgeous as well. Ada could’ve easily married and stayed at home. While Ada did choose to marry, beauty was the last thing on her mind. She was much more focused on the science behind machinery and their creation. She either spent her time writing formulas or meeting with other scholars of the day. Ada was beautiful both inside and out.

 

3. She was a woman before her time.

This can be interpreted in many ways. Not only did Ada seek out a career for herself before other women did, but she was also considered progressive for her time. She pursued a business deal with noted mathematician Charles Babbage when it was considered scandalous for her to write to a man that wasn’t her husband. Ada spent her time attending machinery fairs to learn about the latest inventions. She kept up a correspondence with one scholar, Augustus De Morgan, who was saddened that Ada was held back in life due to her gender. However, Ada was anything but held back by rules.

 

4. She thrived during the Industrial Revolution

Science and technology exploded into a dual partnership during the mid-nineteenth century. Ada believed, as we now do in modern STEM operations, that math and science and even poetry work together to create new inventions. She lived by a code of numbers, which she used as her own unique language.

 

5. She overcame physical and mental illnesses and still became successful.

Whenever women were diagnosed with mental illnesses during previous centuries, it was usually called “hysteria.” That’s what doctors figured Ada suffered from. Ada, especially when she was a young girl, would suffer breakdowns at her family home. It probably didn’t help that she also contracted measles and malaria. Despite these struggles, Ada outshined her tutors throughout her childhood and teenage years.

 

6. She had an inspirational friendship with another female mathematician and scientist.

It was Mary Somerville who first inspired Ada. Ada met her at a young age and the pair became inseparable. Mary was one of the first modern scientists and she’d even managed to publish a book on her research. In Mary, Ada found a mentor and a close friend. Ada and Mary’s partnership is an example of the phenomenal work that women can do when they work together.

 

7. She was both a countess and a working woman.

Ada never spent a day not thinking. She wrote Charles Baggage several times asking for work, hoping that she could become famous in history for research with his new machinery. It took Ada years to bypass all the sexism and gender conformity of her time. Also, since she married a count, she was expected to be his hostess wife. Ada had to deal with her expectations as a wife and daughter. She spent years fact-checking Charles’s research and formulas because she enjoyed the work.

 

8. She basically predicted the existence of computers before they were invented.

The main project Ada worked on in her life was the Analytical Engine with Charles. It was supposed to be able to calculate numbers, store information, and present information. Sound familiar?

 

9. She was a woman learning coding in the late 1800’s.

While for decades Ada’s work remained unaccepted due to her gender, more and more scientists are now learning about her. Her mathematical proofs are basically equivalent to modern coding. Even though Ada didn’t invent a functioning computer, she created the research for it to become possible decades in advance. 

 

10. She fought back against men who tried to take credit for her ideas.

At one point during their collaboration, Charles attempted to submit their research with only his name attached. Of course Ada found out. Using her expansive and seething vocabulary, Ada wrote Charles a series of threatening letters. No matter what her former colleague said, Ada refused to be intimidated by him. Eventually, she made a business deal to help finance his research. Even though Charles still declined to give her credit, Ada was able to get her notes and research published too.