Cover image for Ada's algorithm : how Lord Byron's daughter Ada Lovelace launched the digital age
Title:
Ada's algorithm : how Lord Byron's daughter Ada Lovelace launched the digital age
Author:
Essinger, James, 1957-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Brooklyn : Melville House, [2014]

©2014
Physical Description:
xvi, 254 pages : illustrations ; 22 cm
Summary:
"The world's first computer programmer and daughter of Lord Byron finally gets credit for her research in this gossipy short biography Over 150 years after her death, a widely-used scientific computer program was named "Ada, " after Ada Lovelace, the only legitimate daughter of the eighteenth century's version of a rock star, Lord Byron. Why? Because, after computer pioneers such as Alan Turing began to rediscover her, it slowly became apparent that she had been a key but overlooked figure in the invention of the computer. In Ada Lovelace, James Essinger makes the case that the computer age could have started two centuries ago if Lovelace's contemporaries had recognized her research and fully grasped its implications. It's a remarkable tale, starting with the outrageous behavior of her father, which made Ada instantly famous upon birth. Ada would go on to overcome numerous obstacles to obtain a level of education typically forbidden to women of her day. She would eventually join forces with Charles Babbage, generally credited with inventing the computer, although as Essinger makes clear, Babbage couldn't have done it without Lovelace. Indeed, Lovelace wrote what is today considered the world's first computer program--despite opposition that the principles of science were "beyond the strength of a woman's physical power of application." Based on ten years of research and filled with fascinating characters and observations of the period, not to mention numerous illustrations, Essinger tells Ada's fascinating story in unprecedented detail to absorbing and inspiring effect"--
Language:
English
Contents:
Poetic beginnings -- Lord Byron : a scandalous ancestry -- Annabella : Anglo-Saxon attitudes -- The manor of parallelograms -- The art of flying -- Love -- Silken threads -- When Ada met Charles -- The thinking machine -- Kinship -- Mad scientist -- The analytical engine -- The Jacquard loom -- A mind with a view -- Ada's offer to Babbage -- The Enchantress of Number -- A horrible death -- Redemption.
ISBN:
9781612194080
Format :
Book

Available:*

Library
Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Status
Central Library QA29 .L72 E87 2014 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
Searching...

On Order

Summary

Summary

"[Ada Lovelace], like Steve Jobs, stands at the intersection of arts and technology."--Walter Isaacson, author of The Innovators

Over 150 years after her death, a widely-used scientific computer program was named "Ada," after Ada Lovelace, the only legitimate daughter of the eighteenth century's version of a rock star, Lord Byron. Why?

Because, after computer pioneers such as Alan Turing began to rediscover her, it slowly became apparent that she had been a key but overlooked figure in the invention of the computer.

In Ada Lovelace , James Essinger makes the case that the computer age could have started two centuries ago if Lovelace's contemporaries had recognized her research and fully grasped its implications.

It's a remarkable tale, starting with the outrageous behavior of her father, which made Ada instantly famous upon birth. Ada would go on to overcome numerous obstacles to obtain a level of education typically forbidden to women of her day. She would eventually join forces with Charles Babbage, generally credited with inventing the computer, although as Essinger makes clear, Babbage couldn't have done it without Lovelace. Indeed, Lovelace wrote what is today considered the world's first computer program--despite opposition that the principles of science were "beyond the strength of a woman's physical power of application."

Based on ten years of research and filled with fascinating characters and observations of the period, not to mention numerous illustrations, Essinger tells Ada's fascinating story in unprecedented detail to absorbing and inspiring effect.


Author Notes

JAMES ESSINGER is a writer with a particular interest in the history of ideas that have had a practical impact on the modern world. His previous book, Jacquard's Web: How a Hand-Loom Led to the Birth of the Information Age (2004), was chosen as one of the top 5 popular science books of the year by the Economist .


Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Ada Lovelace is one of the more fascinating figures in scientific history because of both her parentage (beleaguered daughter of the legendary Lord Byron) and her position as one of the key people in the life and work of computer pioneer Charles Babbage. Essinger approaches this biography with a goal of tackling Lovelace's personal life and solidifying her place in Babbage's work. Excerpting both their letters and passages from journals and letters from Lovelace's parents and others, the author provides an engaging and appropriately gossipy (how could it not be?) look at her parents' romance, her childhood, her lifelong fascination with mathematics, and, mostly, her friendship with the inventor. The title suffers, however, from an awkward writing style that results in a frequently interrupted narrative flow and numerous repetitions. Further, Lovelace's story is often set aside for Babbage's, and while a great deal of attention is placed on the latter's inventions and life, after the final pages, many questions remain about Ada herself. A conflicted and vexing effort, Ada's Algorithm serves mostly to whet the reader's appetite for more on this worthy subject.--Mondor, Colleen Copyright 2014 Booklist


Publisher's Weekly Review

Behind every great man, theres a great woman; no other adage more aptly describes the relationship between Charles Babbage, the man credited with thinking up the concept of the programmable computer, and mathematician Ada Lovelace, whose contributions, according to Essinger (Jacquards Web) in this absorbing biography, proved indispensable to Babbages invention. The Analytical Engine was a series of cogwheels, gear-shafts, camshafts, and power transmission rods controlled by a punch-card system based on the Jacquard loom. Lovelace, the only legitimate child of English poet Lord Byron, wrote extensive notes about the machine, including an algorithm to compute a long sequence of Bernoulli numbers, which some observers now consider to be the worlds first computer program. Essingers tome is undergirded by academic research, but it is the authors prose, both graceful and confident, that will draw in a general readership. Readers are treated to an intimate portrait of Lovelaces short but significant life-she died at age 36 from uterine cancer-along with an abbreviated history of 19th-century high-society London. A quick denouement and preface add contemporary context and further Essingers argument that Lady Lovelace had seen the computer age clearly ahead... was never allowed to act on what she saw. Agent: Diane Banks, Diane Banks Associates, U.K. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Choice Review

Framing his text around primary correspondence, Essinger (Jacquard's Web, 2004) effectively supports his premise that Ada Lovelace (1815-1852) was shaped by contrasts, having the poetic imagination of her father, Lord Byron, but incorporating the mathematical sensibilities and discipline of her mother, Lady Byron (Anne Isabella Noel). Though constrained by 19th-century societal norms and expectations for women, she challenged those norms through often-tenacious individualism and educational pursuit. Essinger argues that Ada has frequently been presented as solely an underling to the mathematician and inventor Charles Babbage. However, the historical record, such as her pivotal Notes and even Babbage's autobiography, illustrate her as a visionary of "the intellectual prehistory of the computer" (in contrast to Babbage's more utilitarian purposes for his Difference Engine and Analytical Engine). The author adeptly utilizes the available evidence to counterbalance unsubstantiated or out-of-context portrayals of Lovelace as a sufferer of mental illness and a substance abuser; in her last years, she took laudanum to help treat symptoms of uterine cancer. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All women's history, 19th-century studies, and history of information technology collections. --Kyle D. Winward, Central College


Table of Contents

Prefacep. xi
1 Poetic Beginningsp. 3
2 Lord Byron: A Scandalous Ancestryp. 9
3 Annabella: Anglo-Saxon Attitudesp. 21
4 The Manor of Parallelogramsp. 33
5 Tire Art of Flyingp. 47
6 Lovep. 57
7 Silken Threadsp. 69
8 When Ada Met Charlesp. 79
9 The Thinking Machinep. 85
10 Kinshipp. 95
11 Mad Scientistp. 99
12 The Analytical Enginep. 113
13 The Jacquard Loomp. 131
14 A Mind with a Viewp. 149
15 Ada's Offer to Babbagep. 181
16 The Enchantress of Numberp. 193
17 A Horrible Deathp. 201
18 Redemptionp. 229
Afterwordp. 237
Sourcesp. 239
Further Readingp. 243
Acknowledgementsp. 245
Indexp. 247

Google Preview