Celebrating Ada Lovelace: A timeline

In celebration of Ada Lovelace Day’s 10th year, we would like to look back on all the groups and individuals that have honoured Ada Lovelace over the years. With that in mind, we’ve created a timeline of books, academic research, events, projects, films, documentaries and many other activities, to try and capture all the contributions that have helped make Ada and her achievements more recognised.

1950 – Computing Machinery and Intelligence, AM Turing, Mind, Volume LIX, Issue 236, 1 October 1950, Pages 433–460.
– This is Alan Turing’s seminal piece on artificial intelligence, in which he discusses Lady Lovelace’s Objection. 

1980 – The ADA programming language
– A computing language designed by Jean Ichbiah at CII Honeywell Bull, for the US Department of Defense.

1985 – Ada: A Life and a Legacy
– A biographical book on Ada Lovelace, 
by Dorothy Stein, reviewed by Garry J. Tee.

1990 – The Difference Engine
– An alternative history fiction book, by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling that includes Ada Lovelace as a character, giving a lecture in France.

1994 – The Ada Project
– An online project for information and resources about women in computing (found here).

1997 – Conceiving Ada
– A film about a computer scientist who becomes obsessed with communicating with Ada Lovelace, starring Tilda Swinton as Ada.

1997 – Zeros and Ones: Digital Women and the New Technoculture
– A book by Sadie Plant exploring technology and women, featuring Ada Lovelace, reviewed by Nina Wakeford for New Scientist.

1998 – The Lovelace Medal
– An award established by the British Computing Society (BCS) for outstanding contributions to computer science.

1999 – The Bride of Science: Romance, Reason and Byron’s Daughter
– A biography by Benjamin Woolley, reviewed by John Zukowski.

2001 – Ada Lovelace: The Computing Wizard of Victorian England
 – This is a children’s book by Lucy Lethbridge.

2004 – Lovelace & Babbage and the creation of the 1843 ‘notes’, J. Fuegi and J. Francis, IEEE Annals of the History of Computing, vol. 25, no. 4, pp. 16-26, Oct.-Dec. 2003.
– An academic research paper expanding on Babbage and Lovelace’s work.

2005 – Adafruit
– Online store for electronics products and maker kits, founded by Limor “Ladyada” Fried.

2008 – The Lovelace Colloquium
– An annual one day conference for women computer science students, held by The British Computing Society women group (BCSWomen).

2009 – Ada Lovelace Day
– The annual celebration of women and girls in STEM, held on the second Tuesday in October, and founded by Suw Charman-Anderson.

2010 – Ada’s Technical Books
– A bookstore in Seattle named after Ada, that sells technical and geeky books.

2011 – The Ada Initiative
– A project to increase the participation of women in the open source and open culture communities, run in the US until 2015.

2012 – Google Doodle
– On Ada’s 197th birthday, a Google Doodle was drawn in her honour.

2013 – The Ada Developers Academy
– Academy to increase diversity in tech by training people to be software developers.

2013 – Ada’s Algorithm: How Ada Lovelace, Lord Byron’s Daughter, Launched the Digital Age Through the Poetry of Numbers
 – James Essinger’s biography of Ada, reviewed by Kirkus.

2013 – A Female Genius: How Ada Lovelace Lord Byron’s Daughter Started The Computer Age
 – This is the US edition of Ada’s Algorithm, by James Essinger, with 5,000 additional words, reviewed by Colin Barker for ZDNet.

2013 – Ada’s List
– An email community for women in technology, launched on Ada Lovelace Day.

2013 – Ada Lovelace: An Interdisciplinary Conference Celebrating her Achievements and Legacy
– Academic conference organised by the Stevens Institute of Technology.

2013 – Great Lives
– BBC Radio 4 show on Ada Lovelace, with Konnie Huq and Suw Charman-Anderson.

2014 – The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution
 – The history of computer science, including Ada Lovelace as one of the innovators, by Walter Isaacson (wiki entry here).

2015 – The Ada Lovelace Initiative
– Community initiative in Ireland, connecting women in tech with secondary schools in order to provide female role models and increase uptake amongst girls.

2015 – Ada Lovelace Awards
– An award founded by LookFar, to recognise and showcase the achievements of women in the tech industry.

2015 – The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage: The (Mostly) True Story of the First Computer
– Graphic novel by Sydney Padua, of an alternative reality where Ada Lovelace and Charles Babbage create the Difference Engine (wiki entry here).

2015 – Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine
 – A children’s book by Laurie Wallmark, reviewed by Maria Russo for the New York Times.

2015 – Lady Byron and her Daughters
 – A book about the life of Lady Byron by Julia Markus, reviewed by Anne Boyd Rioux for the LA Review of Books.

2015 – Ada Lovelace: Victorian Computing Visionary, by Suw Charman-Anderson, Ada User Journal: V 36, No 1, March 2015, pp 35
– Bicentennial edition featuring several articles about Ada Lovelace.

2015 – Calculating Ada: The Countess of Computing
– Documentary that aired on BBC Four, presented by Dr Hannah Fry.

2015 – The Letters of Ada Lovelace
 – BBC Radio 4 Dramatisation, presented by Georgina Ferry.

2015 – Ada. Ada. Ada.
– Stage show of the story of Ada Lovelace, written and directed by Zoe Philpott.

2015 – UK passports
– Update to the passports that included Ada Lovelace and Charles Babbage on pages 46 and 47.

2015 – A Passion for Science: Stories of Discovery and Invention
 – Collection of stories about women in science, including Ada Lovelace, edited by Suw Charman-Anderson.

2016 – Ada, the National College for Digital Skills
– A college founded to help fill the digital skills gap and encourage inclusion in the tech industry.

2016 – PRACE Ada Lovelace Award
– An award founded by the Partnership for Advanced Computing in Europe (PRACE) to honour an outstanding woman scientist working in high performance computing.

2016 – Programming Pioneer Ada Lovelace
 – A children’s book and part of the STEM Trailblazer Biography series, by Valerie Bodden.

2016 – Ada’s Ideas: The Story of Ada Lovelace, the World’s First Computer Programmer
– Children’s book by Fiona Robinson, reviewed by Emma Coonan.

2016 – Idea Makers: Personal Perspectives on the Lives & Ideas of Some Notable People
 – Book by Stephen Wolfram, includes a chapter on Ada Lovelace.

2016 – Ada’s Legacy: Cultures of Computing from the Victorian to the Digital Age
 – Book by Robin Hammerman and Andrew L. Russell, that developed after the Ada academic conference.

2016 – The multifaceted impact of Ada Lovelace in the digital age, Aiello, L. C, Artificial Intelligence, V 235, pp. 58-62
– An academic review of Ada’s Legacy.

2017 – Enchantress of Numbers: A Novel of Ada Lovelace
– An historical fiction novel by Jennifer Chiaverini, reviewed by Amanda Skenandore.

2017 – The Early Mathematical Education of Ada Lovelace, Hollings, C., Martin, U, and Rice, A. BSHM Bulletin: Journal of the British Society for the History of Mathematics, pp. 221-234.
– Academic research investigating the early education of Ada.

2017 – The Lovelace–De Morgan mathematical correspondence: A critical re-appraisal, Hollings, C., Martin, U, and Rice, A. Historia Mathematica, vol 34, no 3, pp. 202-231.
– Academic research paper presenting a detailed contextual analysis of some of Ada’s correspondence.

2017 – Ada and the Engine
– A stage play of Ada’s life by Lauren Gunderson.

2017 – Ada Lovelace Gin
– Part of the Great Women Spirits collection created by The Family Coppola, and released on Ada Lovelace Day.

2017 – Ada Lovelace: Consulting Mathematician
– A boardgame by 
Robin David, where Ada Lovelace has to solve the crime of a missing artifact.

Credit: Satellogic

2018 – ÑuSat 4 “Ada”
– Satellogic’s microsatellite ÑuSat 4, named in honour of Ada Lovelace, was launched aboard a Long March 2D rocket on 2 February.

2018 – The Ada Lovelace Institute
– Independent organisation formed to offer research and commentary on artificial intelligence, data and related technologies.

2018 – Ada Lovelace Excellence Scholarship
– A scholarship fund offered by University of Southampton, for female undergraduates studying Electronics & Computer Science.

2018 – Ada Lovelace
– Children’s book by Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara, part of the Little People, BIG DREAMS series, and reviewed by Allison at The Three Rs Book Blog.

2018 – In Byron’s Wake
– A biography by Miranda Seymour, reviewed by Lucy Lethbridge for the Literary Review.

2018 – Ada Lovelace: The Making of a Computer Scientist
– A biography by Christopher Hollings, Ursula Martin and Adrian Rice, reviewed by Suw Charman-Anderson.

2018 – Victoria
– Ada featured as a character in the ITV drama,  portrayed by Emerald Fennell.

2018 – Ada Lovelace Fellowship
– Funding for doctoral students from underrepresented groups, offered by Microsoft.

2018 – Top Quarkz
– Ada was turned into a superhero for the card game, Top Quarkz.

2019 – Doctor Who: The Enchantress of Numbers
– Ada featured as a character in this episode of the audio book Doctor Who: The Fourth Adventures, voiced by Finty Williams.

We would love to keep building on this document, so please do leave a comment if you have any other suggestions for us to add, or tweet to us @FindingAda.

Win a copy of Ada Lovelace: The Making of a Computer Scientist!

In celebration of our 10th Ada Lovelace Day we are giving away a copy of Ada Lovelace: The Making of a Computer Scientist, a new account of Ada Lovelace’s mathematical education and achievements by Lovelace scholar and mathematician Ursula Martin, along with co-authors and fellow mathematicians Christopher Hollings and Adrian Rice.

Whilst there are many biographies extant of Ada, Countess of Lovelace, none explore her interest in maths in the same level of detail as Hollings, Martin and Rice, nor do they provide such a fascinating and compelling glimpse into her childhood, education and personality. The authors have been working for some time on digitising and analysing previously unpublished letters to and from Lovelace, and this book is just one result of that project.

Ada Lovelace: The Making of a Computer Scientist is a beautifully written and extraordinarily approachable book. Liberally illustrated with scans of her letters, portraits, and illustrations, we get an insight into Lovelace’s own fascinations and interests, as well as how her education was structured or, indeed, not.

As a girl, Ada was not permitted a formal education, instead being taught by governesses and, later, her mother, Lady Anne Isabella (Annabella) Byron. Whilst this meant that Ada could, to some extent, focus on what interested her the most, the lack of a formal syllabus meant that at times she had to go back to fill in the blanks before she could progress.

Much of Lovelace’s mathematical education came through exchanging letters and sometimes meeting with mathematicians, including Dr William Frend, Mary Somerville and, crucially, eminent mathematician and logician, Augustus de Morgan. By 1841, when she was 25, Lovelace was revisiting algebra so that she could more easily tackle calculus. But she wasn’t content to just do the exercises and move on to the next chapter, she wanted to fully understand the underlying principles and would work on a problem until she had really cracked it.

It is through her letters and her mathematical education that Hollings, Martin and Rice paint a vivid picture of the kind of person Lovelace was, illustrating her determination, tenacity and intelligence. Of course, the culmination of her studies was the writing of Note G, a ‘footnote’ to Lovelace’s translation from French to English of Luigi Menabrea’s paper about Charles Babbage’s computing machine, The Analytical Engine. Note G very famously contains instructions for the calculation of Bernoulli Numbers, widely considered to be the first computer program. For many, though, Lovelace’s crowning achievement was not the program, but her vision of what The Analytical Engine could do, her realisation that if it could manipulate numbers then it could manipulate symbols and might thus be capable of creating music or graphics.

“Lovelace’s paper is an extraordinary accomplishment, probably understood and recognized by very few in its time, yet still perfectly understandable nearly two centuries later. It covers algebra, mathematics, logic and even philosophy: a presentation of the unchanging principles of the general-purpose computer; a comprehensive and detailed account of the so-called ‘first computer program’; and an overview of the practical engineering of data, cards, memory and programming.”

Hollings, Martin and Rice’s accomplishment is to take a maths-heavy subject and make it not just comprehensible to the non-mathematician, but thoroughly enjoyable. Ada Lovelace: The Making of a Computer Scientist’s only flaw is its brevity: It is so well-written that I could easily have read a version double the length.

If you would like to win a copy of Ada Lovelace: The Making of a Computer Scientist, please share a link to this blog post on social media, then leave a comment below with a link to your social media post. Please make sure that the email in your comment profile works, so that we can get hold of you! The competition will close at midnight BST on 8 October, and we will announce the winning prize on Ada Lovelace Day, 9 October. Only open to residents of the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland. 

And talking of Ada Lovelace Day, don’t forget to get your tickets to our science cabaret event, Ada Lovelace Day Live at The IET in London, and check our worldwide map to see if there’s an indie event on near you!

Mentorship and support for women in STEM

Inspiring Science and Innovating Science Award longlists

An amazing selection of women has been announced for the longlist of the women in science research and advocacy awards, run by Nature and Estée Lauder.

The Inspiring Science Award recognises early career female researchers who are doing outstanding work, and our founder, Suw, was one of the judges. On the longlist are:

  • Dr Cara Battersby, who studies how stars are born in our galaxy’s centre at the University of Connecticut, USA
  • Dr Ilano Brito, who is pioneering systems-level methods to analyse the human microbiome at Cornell University, USA
  • Dr María Natalia Lisa, who is investigating signalling pathways employed by Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the causative agent of tuberculosis at the Universidad Nacional de Rosario, Santa Fe, Argentina,
  • Dr Shruti Naik, who studies how environmental stimuli collaborate with genetic factors to control immunity in the skin at New York University, USA
  • Dr Mirjana Pović, who studies galaxy formation and evolution, focused on nuclear activity in galaxies at the Ethiopian Space Science and Technology Institute, Ethiopia, and Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía (CSIC), Spain
  • Ritu Raman, who is designing synthetic materials that adapt to their environment in the same way as biological materials at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA
  • Rebecca Calisi Rodríguez, who studies how hormones in the brain and body work to make animals, including humans, reproduce at the University of California, Davis, USA
  • Dr Corinna Stefanie Schindler, who studies physical organic chemistry at the University of Michigan, USA
  • Dr Kelsey A Stoerzinger, who studies reactions that convert solar energy into fuels at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Washington State, USA
  • Dr Dawn Tan, who studies the dynamics of light-matter interactions at the Singapore University of Technology and Design, Singapore

The Innovating Science award honours those involved with encouraging girls and women into science. The women and organisations listed for this award are:

  • Dr Marja Seidel for Cielo y Tierra, empowering girls through science inquiry activities, focusing on rural areas, global
  • Morgan DiCarlo for Civil Engineering Outreach, an outreach program to recruit high school women into engineering, USA
  • Madison Smither for From Student to Scientist and the Emmy Noether Award and Scholars Program, providing science opportunities to students outside of the classroom, and a $75,000 fellowship for a young female scientist to conduct graduate-level research and a mentorship program giving girls the ability to conduct laboratory research, USA
  • Anvita Gupta for LITAS for Girls, helping girls in computer sciences and STEM, USA
  • Dr Aliyah Weinstein for Letters to a Pre-Scientist, demystifying science careers by creating personal connections between students and real scientists, USA
  • Mambepa Nakazwe for Seeds of Change Foundation Zambia, advocating for girls with special needs to take up interest in information communication technology careers and empowers them with entrepreneurship skills, Zambia
  • Yasmin Kroll for Techbridge Girls, championing equality in STEM education and fair access to economic opportunities for all girls, USA
  • Dr Yvonne Commodore-Mensah for The African Research Academies for Women, providing fully-funded research opportunities for young women to complete a Summer Undergraduate Research Program at African universities, Africa
  • Fanni Szigeti for The Association of Hungarian Women in Science, promoting STEM and computer sciences among girls who are under-represented in these fields of education, Hungary
  • Rethabile Sonibare for Thope Foundation, empowering young girls in STEM, South Africa

The shortlist will be announced next month.

US Senate honours Ada Lovelace

US Senator Ron Wyden has introduced a resolution honouring Ada Lovelace and recognising Ada Lovelace Day to the Senate, the upper chamber of the United States Congress. The senator, who represents Oregon, submitted S.Res.592A resolution designating October 9, 2018, as “National Ada Lovelace Day” and honoring the life and legacy of Ada Lovelace, the first computer programmer.

The statement is a Simple Resolution, which is “used to express nonbinding positions of the Senate”. These resolutions often “express public gratitude for distinguished contributions; dramatize the virtues of individuals, groups, and causes; and perpetuate the remembrance of significant events” says a congressional report. “During the past two centuries, commemoratives have become an integral part of the American political tradition,” the report says.

We are delighted that Ada Lovelace’s achievements have been recognised in this way, and that the Senate chose to support our mission of raising the profile of women in STEM by giving Ada Lovelace Day itself official status in the US.

The full text of the resolution (PDF) reads:

115TH CONGRESS
2D SESSION
S. RES.

Designating October 9, 2018, as ‘‘National Ada Lovelace Day’’ and honoring the life and legacy of Ada Lovelace, the first computer programmer.

IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES

Mr. WYDEN (for himself and Mrs. FISCHER) submitted the following resolution; which was referred to the Committee on [25 July 2018]

RESOLUTION

Designating October 9, 2018, as ‘‘National Ada Lovelace Day’’ and honoring the life and legacy of Ada Lovelace, the first computer programmer.

Whereas Augusta Ada King-Noel, Countess of Lovelace, now known as Ada Lovelace, was born on December 10, 1815, in London, United Kingdom;

Whereas, from a young age, Lovelace displayed a gift for mathematics, languages, and the sciences;

Whereas, at the age of 17, Lovelace began to study mathematics under the guidance of scientist and translator Mary Somerville and, later, logician Augustus de Morgan;

Whereas, in 1833, Lovelace was introduced to inventor and mechanical engineer, Charles Babbage, and began to study his designs for the Analytical Engine, a mechanical computer;

Whereas Lovelace was the first person to recognize that the Analytical Engine could be used to manipulate symbols and letters and was the first person to theorize that the Analytical Engine could be used to create music and graphics;

Whereas, in 1843, Lovelace published step-by-step instructions for using the Analytical Engine to calculate Bernoulli numbers ‘‘without having been worked out by human head and hands first’’;

Whereas these insights gave Lovelace an unparalleled vision of the future of computer science, and she stated that ‘‘[a] new, a vast and a powerful language is [being] developed for the future use of analysis, in which to wield its truths so that these may become of more speedy and accurate practical application for the purposes of mankind’’;

Whereas the work of Lovelace went widely unrecognized until the 1950s, when her papers were republished, and their significance and her contributions to the fields of computer science and mathematics were finally acknowledged;

Whereas, in the 1980s, to honor the contributions of Lovelace, the Department of Defense named its newly created computer language ‘‘Ada’’ after Lovelace;

Whereas the second Tuesday in October is annually celebrated as Ada Lovelace Day and is intended to honor women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics and their accomplishments and contributions to academia and the world; and

Whereas Ada Lovelace died on November 27, 1852, leaving behind a legacy of poetic science and reasoning, in which the arts and sciences are woven together to find new insights:

Now, therefore, be it

1 Resolved, That the Senate—
2 (1) designates October 9, 2018, as ‘‘National
3 Ada Lovelace Day’’; and
4 (2) honors the life and contributions of Ada
5 Lovelace, a leading woman in science and mathematics and the first computer programmer.

Senator Wyden tweeted:

And the British Embassy in Washington tweeted: