Ada Lovelace, early computer whiz, gets Doodle love

Seen by some as the world's first programmer, Lovelace created technical notes for the Analytical Engine conceived by Charles Babbage.

Today's Google Doodle honors the birth of a computer visionary who believed such machines could be more than just number crunchers.

Born December 10, 1815, Ada Lovelace is perhaps best known for her contributions toward Charles Babbage's Analytical Engine, Designed but never actually built until 1991, the Analytical Engine is in many ways one of the ancestors of today's computer systems.

A mathematician and writer, Lovelace took on the task of first translating and then expanding upon an article describing the Analytical Engine. Her notes contains what some people think of as early computer progams or algorithms, hence her unofficial title as the world's first programmer. The Ada programming language was named after her.

Beyond simply describing the Analytical Engine, Lovelace conceived of at least one visionary way in which it could be used -- to make music. Described by a Google blog post highlighting her contributions, a quote from her notes pointed the way to today's digital music.

Supposing, for instance, that the fundamental relations of pitched sounds in the science of harmony and of musical composition were susceptible of such expression and adaptations, the engine might compose elaborate and scientific pieces of music of any degree of complexity or extent.

Google's Doodle tracks her vision, starting with an image of the Analytical Engine and ending with that of a laptop and mobile music device.

"We hope today's doodle inspires people to find out more about Ada, and about the contributions made by women in general to science and technology," the Google blog added.

About the author

Journalist, software trainer, and Web developer Lance Whitney writes columns and reviews for CNET, Computer Shopper, Microsoft TechNet, and other technology sites. His first book, "Windows 8 Five Minutes at a Time," was published by Wiley & Sons in November 2012.


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