Augusta Ada Byron was born in London in December 1815 from the marriage between Lord Byron (yes, him) and Anne Isabelle Milbanke (a brilliant mathematician, albeit an amateur).  

Lord Byron decides to abandon mother and daughter just a month after the birth of little Ada, and within a short time he leaves England permanently and then dies in Greece without Ada ever having met him. 

The conditions for a tragic life are all there. And in fact poor Ada grows up rather sickly: since she was a child she suffers from terrible migraines and as a teenager she is struck by a terrible form of measles which forces her to bed for more than a year. 

Despite her precarious health, however, Ada turns out to be a very intelligent and studious young girl, capable of successfully applying herself both to the study of mathematics and logic (as her mother strongly wants) and to that of literature and poetry.  

At fourteen, driven by the desire to fly, she wrote a treatise on flight, Flylogy, which investigates the world of birds and their mechanics to understand the secret of their flight.  


At seventeen the radical turning point in his life: he meets Charles Babbage by whose theories she remains fascinated.  

Babbage is the inventor of differential motor: a machine never built that performs calculations of polynomial functions in a completely mechanical way. 

Babbage also created the analytical engine which is to all intents and purposes a computer, albeit mechanical, capable of solving various problems, based on the use of punched cards like those used in Joseph Marie Jacquard's looms to create different motifs and designs in the fabric. 

Both machines were never actually built due to the limitations of the technology of the time and due to the lack of adequate funds for such an effort. 

Ada begins to collaborate steadily with Babbage who is fascinated by the young woman's mathematical intelligence, so much so that in 1842 he entrusts her with the translation from French of an article written by the Italian engineer Luigi Menabrea on the analytical engine.  

Ada not only translates the article but expands it and accompanies it with numerous explanatory notes, so much so that it triples its length.  

This corpus of notes is in fact all that remains of the Countess of Lovelace's work: but it is still no small thing.  

In these notes aimed at best explaining the functioning and purpose of Babbage's machine, Ada describes a method for calculating Bernoulli numbers completely mechanically with the aid of Babbage's analytical engine. The method is in fact an algorithm that can be implemented with the correct instructions on the machine.  

For this result Ada is considered the first person to have programmed a computer 

Furthermore, Ada understands how the potential of Babbage's machine goes well beyond the calculation of mathematical problems, but extends to the formal and algorithmic manipulation of all symbols: it is a general purpose machine that is not limited to numerical calculation but allows .  



These brilliant results far surpass Babbage's own understanding of his invention and they anticipate the discoveries on computability of the 900th century by almost a century. 

While engaged in scientific activity, Ada continues to suffer from poor health and, with a rebellious spirit, turns to gambling and libertinage: she loses considerable sums which her husband (Lord Lovelace, married in 1835) has to pay to creditors, and passes from one lover to another. To make sure she doesn't miss anything, she also uses opiates to combat headaches (she says).  

A decidedly unusual profile for the Victorian society of the time. 

In 1852, at just thirty-seven years old, Ada Lovelace died of uterine cancer, aggravated, as often happened at the time, by the treatments administered to her based on bloodletting. 

According to her explicit wishes, she was buried in Hucknall next to her father Lord Byron, whom she had never actually met. 


In 1979 the US Department of Defense released a programming language to unify its named systems Ada in honor of Ada Lovelace.  

Furthermore, Ada appears in the beautiful cyberpunk novel The Reality Machine by Bruce Sterling and William Gibson, in which we imagine that Babbage's engine is actually built in the midst of the Victorian era, with all the consequences that may derive from it. 

We thank PAOLO RICCARDO FELICIOLI for his contribution