The only legitimate child of the poet Lord Byron, Ada Lovelace described her approach to mathematics as “poetical science” and herself as an “analyst (and metaphysician)”. She worked alongside her friend Charles Babbage and in 1843 produced a set of ‘Notes’ to her translation of the Italian Luigi Menabrea’s article about Babbage’s Analytical Engine.
It is Lovelace’s Notes that had the lasting impact. In specifying an algorithm to be carried out by a machine, many today view this as the first ever computer programme.
Where others, including Babbage, focused on calculation and number-processing, Lovelace saw that computers could go much further: she examined how individuals and society could relate to technology as a collaborative tool.
This is one of a series of stories about the impact of new thinkers, installed on the walls of the Islington head office of Innovate UK’s Knowledge Transfer Network.