In the spirit of Ada Lovelace Day, my first blog post will be in celebration of women in technology.
Ada Lovelace is the only legitimate daughter of Lord Byron. As a child she was often ill but was adept at science and mathematics. Her skills in writing and mathematics impressed Charles Babbage whom she worked and corresponded with on numerous occasions. In 1842, while translating Luigi Menabrea's article on Babbage's proposed Analytical Engine, Ada appended a set of her own notes. Among these notes was a complete algorithm for calculating a sequence of Bernoulli Numbers using the engine. For this achievement, Ada Lovelace is usually credited as the world's first computer programmer.
The extent of her contributions cannot be accurately guessed due to Babbage's tendency to not acknowledge other peoples' contributions to his work. But she was definitely one of the few people to understand Babbage's ideas so well that she could write a program that could be read and understood by a machine.
So what does this mean and why should we celebrate? Think how things might be different without Ada Lovelace's contributions. What things use computer programs? Cars, cell phones, digital cameras, GPS, MP3 players, XBOX 360, the Internet. I am not saying these things would be gone, but how might they be different? How might the timeline of computer technology be altered without one woman's contributions? Think about that while you use these devices today.
If you want to celebrate, think about Ada Lovelace and find out about more women in technology. Find out about women in engineering, in aeronautics, in politics, in science, in space travel, in the military, in every field imaginable both in history and in the future.
And remember that a woman's place is every place.