Ada Lovelace, born in London on 10 December 1815, was the daughter of Annabella Milbanke and the famous poet Lord Byron, but she never met him; her parents separated two months after her birth. Lord Byron died shortly afterwards in Greece. Annabella Milbanke tried to bring up her daughter in a virtuous way, so that she would not inherit her father's evil ways. The girl received an unusual education: she studied mathematics and science. Her noble ancestry enabled her to work with the greatest scientists of the time.
In 1833, she met Charles Babbage during a demonstration of his 'differential machine'. Ada Lovelace was fascinated by his work and collaborated with him for about ten years. The fervent scientist translated the mathematician Federico Luigi Menabrea's memoir on the analytical machine from French for Babbage. This invention, which Babbage was trying to develop at the time, can be considered the mechanical ancestor of computers. Ada Lovelace added several notes to her translation, the purpose of which was to explain how the machine should proceed in order to achieve the desired result - which corresponds to the programming of the computer age.
In 1835, she married William King, the future Earl of Lovelace and father of her three children. Her downfall was initiated by a passion for gambling, perhaps driven by the hope of financing Babbage's work, which did not find the hoped-for support from government authorities, and continued with her separation from her husband. On 27 November 1852, Ada Lovelace died of cancer in isolation at the age of thirty-six.
The Ada programming language, developed in 1979, is a posthumous tribute to her. The Ada Lovelace project seeks to raise awareness among young women about careers in engineering, applied sciences and new technologies.
● http://www.ada-online.be/fr/1/bioada.htm © 2001 Hachette Multimédia / Hachette Livre
● Isabelle Collet : L’informatique a-t-elle un sexe ? : hackers, mythes et réalités, L’Harmattan, 2006, pp. 71-74.