Ada Lovelace: Cracking coder

Ada has garnered the attention not just because of her mathematical achievements but because she is a great story. When she was a month old her mother, Anne, wife of George Gordon, Lord Byron, had had enough of her husband’s profligacy (he disposed of her vast inheritance within a year), promiscuity (he had an affair with his half-sister Augusta among many, many others) and general horridness (he would send his wife up to bed while he dallied with Augusta downstairs), and stole away from the marital home with her baby. Neither mother nor daughter ever saw the mad and bad poet-peer again, but when he died at the age of 36 he was such a celebrity that Ada was, royalty aside, London’s most famous child.

.. “She was”, wrote Bruce Collier, one of Babbage’s biographers, “a manic-depressive with the most amazing delusions about her own talents, and a rather shallow understanding of both Charles Babbage and the Analytical Engine…I guess someone has to be the most overrated figure in the history of computing.” But the world will continue to give Ada the benefit of the doubt – because it needs her.