The First Computer Programmer Was a Woman // Ada Lovelace // Ad [CC]

The First Computer Programmer Was a Woman // Ada Lovelace // Ad [CC]


Hello lovely people, Welcome to the first entry of 2020 entry my
‘historical figures’ playlist. If you’re just joining us and you enjoy learning about
queer or disabled people of the past who did amazing things then subscribe! Today we’re
going to be talking about Ada Lovelace, an English mathematician and writer, the first
to recognise that computers had applications beyond pure calculation and is thus sometimes
called the woman who wrote the first algorithm. She lived a tempestuous but sadly short life
with many exciting twists that we’ll be discussing today! Whilst not necessarily classed as ‘disabled’
Ada struggled with chronic illness throughout her life and managed to achieve many wonderful
things despite dealing with a body that occasionally paralysed – which is something my body does because
I have Hereditary Neuropathy with liability to Pressure Palsies, so… I relate. Today’s video is sponsored by Skillshare, – it’s my first sponsored historical profile,
yay! Skillshare is an online learning platform
that harnesses video to teach a range of topics. You’ll remember from my DIY vintage hair
piece video that Skillshare have a number of crafty lessons but they also branch out
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large number of courses are captioned and they’re looking to extend that across the
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computing… stuff… but if you’re a budding Ada or an old hand you’ll still be able
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tech powers for good or just learning some simple painting techniques, click that link
to get started. The Hon. Augusta Ada Byron was born in England
on the 10 December 1815 to Anne Isabella Noel Byron, 11th Baroness Wentworth and George
Gordon Byron, the 6th Baron Byron, more commonly known as ‘Lord Byron the poet and terrible
father’ – Okay, I added the second bit. But you’ll
see! Ada’s mother, Anne Isabella, commonly nicknamed
‘Annabella’, was a highly educated and strictly religious woman. As a child her extreme
intelligence had been cultivated by her parents who hired as her tutor a former Cambridge
University professor. Her education thus proceeded much like that of a Cambridge student; with
studies involving classical literature, philosophy, science and mathematics. In fact Lord Byron nicknamed her his “princess
of parallelograms”. – Right, side note. You may find it confusing
that Lord Byron is called ‘Lord’ Byron despite being a Baron. Well, yes, the British
peerage is confusing but to break it down: There are five ranks of peer in the UK: And yes, they still exist. – In descending order: Duke, Marquess, Earl,
Viscount and Baron. Lord is a generic term that is used to denote members of the peerage
and most often used by Barons who are rarely addressed by their formal title. The correct
way of addressing Byron would be ‘The Lord Byron’ but no one actually says ‘The’
because that’s unwieldy. Marguesses, Earls and Viscounts are are also commonly addressed
as ‘Lord’ but Dukes aren’t because they use the style of ‘The Duke of…’ (Cambridge
for example). Formally you would address them as ‘Your Grace’ rather than ‘My Lord’.
Because religion. And that’s a story for another time. Annabella was a cold, stiff, religious woman
and an unlikely match for the amoral and agnostic poet Lord Byron. She met him socially in 1812
because he had began a relationship with her cousin’s wife. Red flag. Byron’s popularity was soaring following
his many literary successes but he was deeply in debt because he refused to make money from
his work as he believed business was not appropriate for a gentleman and seemed to prefer extreme
financial distress. [crickets sfx] Red flag. She also suspected that Byron was having an
affair with his half sister. Do I need to say it? Red flag! He proposed in October 1812 through her aunt
and in response Annabella wrote a scathing summary of his character and refused him,
telling her mother “He is a very bad, very good man”. However, plagued with an obsession
for her modesty and intellect, Byron proposed again in September 1814. Annabella decided that, aware of Byron’s
rage, philandering, drinking and money troubles, it was her Christian duty to support him and
improve his behaviour. [crickets sfx] – What a great basis for a marriage (!) If only she’d had better friends who could
point out that was a stupid idea… During the summer of 1815, he began to unleash
his anger and hostility on his wife. His moods were dark, he drank heavily and began an affair
with an actress. Annabella, now pregnant, became extremely distressed and wrote to Byron’s
half sister, Augusta Leigh, (the afford mentioned half-sister) who traveled to the Byron’s home to assist and upon arrival
became the new subject of Lord Byron’s wrath. On the 10th of December Annabella gave birth
to Ada but this only seemed to increase Byron’s despair. He had written in letters that he expected
his child to be a “glorious boy” and was highly disappointed when she turned out to be a girl.
He named her Augusta Ada Byron after the half-sister he was clearly far too fond of, who had the
year before given birth to a child that the family were pretty sure was Byron’s. So that’s… great. On 16 January 1816, Lord Byron commanded that
Lady Byron left for her parents’ home and took five-week-old Ada with her. It was to
be the last time Ada ever saw her father. He left England four months later and officially
separated from his wife. Although British law at the time granted full custody of children
to the father in cases of separation, Lord Byron made no attempt to claim his parental
rights and died of disease in the Greek War of Independence, fighting the Ottoman Empire,
when Ada was eight years old. Lady Byron remained incredibly bitter and
continued throughout her life to make allegations about her husband’s immoral behaviour. Which
we probably can’t judge her for, to be fair, but it likely wasn’t good for her own mental
health. In an attempt to prevent Ada from developing
her father’s perceived insanity, Lady Byron promoted Ada’s interest in mathematics and
logic, steering her away from anything judged to be ‘frivolous’. Ada was not even allowed
to see a portrait of her father until her 20th birthday. As you can perhaps already imagine, Ada did
not have a close relationship with her mother although due to societal attitudes of the
time, which favoured the father in separations, Lady Byron had to present herself as a loving
mother. In reality Ada was instead left in the care of her maternal grandmother Judith,
who did actually dote on her. In order to prove her ‘good mothering’
Lady Byron wrote anxious letters to her mother concerning her daughter’s welfare- – with a cover saying to show them to people
cause yeah… She did have an unfortunate habit of referring
to her daughter as ‘it’ though. Which… isn’t exactly on the list of prime mothering.
Neither is her letter stating: “I talk to it for your satisfaction, not my own, and
shall be very glad when you have it under your own.” Thanks mom! As a teenager Ada was fiercely watched by
close friends of her mother for any sign of moral deviation. Beginning in early childhood Ada struggled
with bouts of illness and from the age of eight experienced headaches that obscured
her vision- – which I also relate to a lot, having lost
the vision in my left eye from a migraine. [sigh] ah, relatable historical figures(!) In June 1829, at the age of 14, she was paralysed
during a bout of measles and was subjected to bed rest for nearly a year- – like I was! It took her two years to be able to walk again
with the help of crutches, during which time she used a wheelchair. – [relatable nodding face] She used this recovery time to develop her
mathematical and technological skills. As a 12-year-old as decided she wanted to fly
and went about the project methodically and passionately, constructing wings from different
materials and in different sizes. She examined the anatomy of birds to determine the right
proportion between the wings and the body and wrote a book with illustrative plates
called Flyology because yes, that’s just the kind of incredible child she was. Her upbringing was certainly unusual for an
aristocratic girl in the 1800s. Mathematics and science were not standard fare for women
at the time but she had inherited her mother’s extreme intelligence and her father’s imaginative
prowess. Lady Byron believed that only rigorous study could prevent Ada from developing her
father’s mental illness (not how that works). Yet she also believed that forcing her daughter
to lie completely still for long periods of time whilst awake would develop her self-control. Unsurprisingly Lady Byron did not win any
parenting awards. Fortunately Ada had a natural aptitude for
numbers and language. She was taught by the social reformer William Frend and the Scottish
astronomer and mathematician Mary Somerville, who was one of the first women to be admitted
into the Royal Astronomical Society. Around the age of 17 Ada met the famous mathematician and inventor Charles Babbage through Somerville. Babbage clearly saw something great in Ada
and became her mentor. She was fascinated with Babbage’s ideas and inventions. Known
now as ‘the father of the computer’, Babbage was at that time inventing the difference
engine, a machine that performed mathematical calculations, and showed it to Ada before
it was finished. In her work Ada often questioned assumptions
by integrating poetry and science. While studying differential calculus, she wrote to her tutor
Augustus De Morgan: “I may remark that the curious transformations
many formulae can undergo, the unsuspected and to a beginner apparently impossible identity
of forms exceedingly dissimilar at first sight, is I think one of the chief difficulties in
the early part of mathematical studies. I am often reminded of certain sprites and fairies
one reads of, who are at one’s elbows in one shape now, and the next minute in a form most
dissimilar.” She believed that both intuition and imagination
were critical to effectively applying mathematical and scientific concepts and valued metaphysics,
the brand of philosophy that examines the fundamental nature of reality, as much as
mathematics. She described her approach as ‘poetical science’. On being presented at court at the age of
seventeen she became immensely popular, thanks to both her rather infamous parentage but
also her brilliant mind. She danced at many balls, becoming a regular at Court and was
described as being dainty and charming. At the age of 20, in July 1835 she married
William, 8th Baron King and became Lady King. He supported his wife’s academia and they
shared a love of horses, going on to have three children… I mean if the most British
thing you’ve ever heard of: love of horses. And they went on have 3 children together:
Byron, Anne Isabella (called Annabella) and Ralph Gordon. And yes, all three of them were
pretty much named after Ada’s parents. She apparently was pretty strong willed! Immediately
after the birth of Annabella in 1837, Ada once again became very ill with a bout of
cholera. She was already battling with asthma and digestive problems and look months to
shake the illness, during which time doctors gave her painkillers like laudanum and opium
and reportedly she experienced mood swings and hallucinations… – Probably because she was high. Ada was a descendant of the Barons Lovelace,
a title that had gone extinct, and thus when her husband was made an Earl in 1838 they
chose to take up the mantle ‘Earl of Lovelace and Viscount Ockham’, making Ada ‘Countess
of Lovelace’. – Yes, the British aristocracy is confusing.
Should I make an explainer video about it? Would that be helpful for future historical
videos? Ada was asked to translate an article on Babbage’s
analytical engine by Italian engineer Luigi Federico Menabrea… ahh names for a Swiss journal. She
not only translated the complex scientific language into English (just casually brilliant)
but added her own thoughts and ideas on the machine. Her notes, which she named ‘Notes’,
(gotta love an economical girl) ended up being three times longer than the original piece
and was published in 1843 in an English science journal. Within them Ada describes how codes
could be created for the device to handle letters and symbols along with numbers. She
also theorized a method for the engine to repeat a series of instructions, a process
known as looping that computer programs use today. Within ‘Notes’ is what many historians
consider to be the first computer program—ie, an algorithm designed to be carried out by
a machine. Yet others refute this, pointing out that Babbage’s personal notes from previous
years contain the building blocks of Ada’s ideas. Either way Ada brought a fresh perspective:
a vision for the capability of computers to go beyond mere calculating or number-crunching,
while many others, including Babbage himself, focused only on those specific capabilities. So basically Ada was very cool. Her notes were labelled alphabetically from
A to G and Note G contained not only the first published algorithm specifically tailored
for implementation on a computer but also Ada’s dismissal of artificial intelligence.
She wrote that “The Analytical Engine has no pretensions whatever to originate anything.
It can do whatever we know how to order it to perform. It can follow analysis; but it
has no power of anticipating any analytical relations or truths.” Her objection has
gone on to be the subject of much debate, including in Alan Turing’s paper “Computing
Machinery and Intelligence” and yes, I will indeed be doing a historical profile on Alan
Turing at some point… Ada cared deeply for a number of different
academic projects in a range of scientific fields, including phrenology, a pseudoscience
which involves the measurement of bumps on the skull to predict mental traits, and mesmerism. Her interest in the brain was part of a long-running pre-occupation, inherited from her mother,
about her ‘potential’ madness. In 1844 she wanted to begin a mathematical model for understanding
how the brain gives rise to thoughts and nerves to feelings (“a calculus of the nervous system”)
but this was never completed. Her interest in mathematics didn’t always
work out so well though: She created a large gambling syndicate and made an ambitious attempt
in 1851 to create a mathematical model for betting but ended up thousands of pounds in
debt instead! (and her husband wasn’t pleased). She also had a relaxed approach to friendships
with men that led to numerous rumours of affairs… but in fairness, it wasn’t hard for Victorian
women to overstep lines! And again, she wasn’t as bad as her dad…
if that’s a defence. In 1841 Lady Byron confessed to Ada and her cousin Elizabeth
Medora Leigh that Lord Byron had fathered them both- – and boy did Elizabeth lead a life! She lived
in a menage-a-trois with her older sister and her husband, had a baby by him, escaped
a convent, had another baby by him, ran away to France with him, decided to become a nun,
had another baby, had an affair with a French naval officer who abandoned her, married his
servant, had another baby, and eventually died of small-pox. So Lord Byron really did have some very adventurous
genes! Ada died at 36, the exact same age at which
her father had died, on 27 November 1852, from uterine cancer but more immediately from
the bloodletting from her doctors. Which is never a good idea! She was buried, at her
request, next to the father she never got a chance to know at the Church of St. Mary
Magdalene in Hucknall, Nottinghamshire. Was Ada the world’s first computer programmer?
Whether she was or not she was certainly the only person at the time to see the potential
of the analytical engine as a machine capable of expressing entities other than quantities.
And that makes her truly special. Her mindset of “poetical science” led her
to ask questions about the Analytical Engine that examined how individuals and society
relate to technology as a collaborative tool. And could there possibly be a better moment
to remind you to click the link in the description for your first two months of Skillshare for
free??? Collaborative learning through technology will make us all smarter. Thank you so much for watching, I hope you’ve
enjoyed the video. Please do let me know in the comments who you would like me to do a
profile on next and subscribe if you haven’t already! See you in my next video [lively music]

100 thoughts on “The First Computer Programmer Was a Woman // Ada Lovelace // Ad [CC]”

  1. The Peachie Spoonie

    "her christian duty to support him and improve his behavior" – well if that doesn't sound like a great basis for a marriage

  2. I think I would have been more interested in history growing up if it was taught like this. About real people, not just the "famous" one's. American education sucks lol

  3. This was great! I knew bits and pieces of this, but it's delightful to hear it all laid out.
    Also, 1) YAY for an Alan Turing profile! and 2) OMG, yes, pleeeeeeaaaaaase to an explanatory vid on the British aristocracy. Your very clear way of laying out a topic would be invaluable there!

  4. I've been reading up on her after a recent visit to Athens, where Lord Byron was mentioned several times in the National Historical Museum because of his exploits in the Greek Independence struggle. His story with all the women and children certainly makes for some interesting reading. And you're definitely right to call him a terrible father. Ada is a fascinating woman.

  5. OMG!! I love this video. I work as a programmer and have a degree in mathematics. I only learned about Ada Lovelace AFTER earning my degree and working as a programmer for a year. I’m so glad you have made a video about her. Especially since the field really lacks inclusion

  6. Your knowledge is awesome and yes, aristocracy with the different titles is complicated. It would be great if you made a video on that topic.
    Thanks for introducing such amazing forgotten personalities. I love such "dreamers" who set up cornerstones to later important discoveries and inventions.

  7. In 30+ years of software development, I've seen women just straight up drop fever: crisp code, impeccable designs. They like coding. They just don't want to put up with the dumb nonsense that used to go on / still goes on with a lot of team's dynamics. If they aren't key players on your teams, it's your teams, not women in code. Big cheer for doing a clip on Ada. Thoroughly legendary.

  8. I don't know why, I burst into tears at the thing about her being buried at her request next to the father she never knew. And then felt ridiculous. It was the whole thing and a kind of surge of empathy for her and the pointless tragedies that weren't entirely pointless or without reason. But I'm sure her life is not the only one entitled to be felt for as tragic, by a long long stretch. Others needs ignored right now of course. But yes, the emotion of longing to reconcile connection with people where relationship was so important but fraught is sympathetic.

  9. I honestly do not even need to watch videos now before giving a big ol' thumbs up. I love all of your videos. ❤ thank you for your content, you and Claud are my fave.

  10. Could you do an historical figures piece on Frida Kahlo? Kahlo was brilliant, openly bisexual, and suffered from a wide range of disabilities.

  11. I love your historical profile series! Welcome back!
    I had heard of Ada Lovelace and knew she did something with early computer programming, but I didn't know anything else about here, really. That's so amazing! She had such a cool life. Thank you for sharing her story so that more people can learn about this awesome, groundbreaking woman.

  12. A bit off-topic here, but your voice sounds AMAZING in this video! You could be like, the replacement for Morgan Freeman someday 😛

  13. Maybe do one on a golden age of Hollywood actor or actress or maybe one on Scotty Bowers who supposedly ran a business where he sold sex to the stars

  14. When they teach about Lady Ada Lovelace in computer classes in the US, I don't remember them ever saying anything about her personally.  Of course, this was 25 years ago for me as far as computer classes go.  Considering that Lord Byron was supposed to have had an affair with Percy Shelley, I would say he wasn't the greatest of husbands to Mary.  I was watching a documentary about recent goings on in Parlaiment since the original Brexit vote and I was dumbfounded to see how many peers there are and that so many are added every year.  Did they ever succeed in voting in a rule to make it so that so many peers couldn't be created every year?  I love these videos!

  15. Ms. Jessica, that was a wonderful video! This is my first video in your historical figures playlist. I am very much interested in watching the others. Happy 2020!

  16. Can we get one on Michael Dillon? One of the first trans men to medical transition, who also had some drama with the British upper class.

  17. This was fabulous!! One note: bloodletting actually is a good idea…if you have hemachromatosis! High levels of iron in the blood can really mess with your liver, kidneys, pancreas, and brain over time, and the only treatment I'm aware of is regular blood donations. Kinda wild.

  18. Is there like an iphone alarm going off in the background of this video or am i going crazy? I'm so tired I cant figure out if its background music or an actual alarm that Jess obviously couldnt hear lol

  19. Love Ada Lovelace! She is so awesome and inspiring. I get so frustrated that people try to discount her intelligence. Side note, Byron was also bisexual.

  20. +MissJessicaKH Augusta Ada King seems to have been an Aspergeritess a century ante hoc – Hans Asperger MD's masterpiece project in children's hospitals in Nazified Austria only started in the mid 1930's. King wrote detailed analyses of the proposals of contemporary Charles Babbage and others, finding artificial intelligence to be unachievable due to the strict mathematics of the computational engines proposed.

  21. HAPPY 2020 Jessica and Claudia!!! 💕🥰🕊🎉🌟
    I have to admit something moderately personal to you, that you are ONE of only two people in my whole life that has me interested in history. I flunked all of my history classes in school, and I LOVE the way you describe it, it's so much more in depth and a lot more interesting than those boring history books that omit so much that I thought there was no reason to know why history was even a subject in school! Thank you so much! 😁💖😃

  22. 5:22 Also a red flag

    This is a common way of thinking in abusees. They believe it's their duty to change or fix the abuser, thus staying in their abusive situation. Worth noting that this is completely impossible: you can't fix or be fixed by anyone, except for yourself. You can only guide and help someone on their way to recovery, but the real bulk of the work has to be done by the person themself.

  23. Geez, Lord Byron is an ass. This is seriously gonna taint the way I read his poetry. And Lady Byron isn't much better. Poor Ada.

  24. Thank you for the brilliantly researched video! My husband and I named our daughter after Ada Lovelace – Ada is her second name. Didn't know the last bit about bloodletting – thank god for modern medicine!

  25. Both Ada and Babbage did borrow certain practical aspects of computing from the earlier French inventor Jacquard who was famous for the Jacquard loom. The loom used large joined punched cards in strings to control the weaving process and these allowed repetition of patterns and for the pattern to be changed quite quickly by changing the card string; the cards also stored the information in a fairly convenient fashion.

    Jacquards cards are seen as a very important early step in moving towards computing as they effectively programmed the loom. Babbage, Ada and others took an interest in Jacquard's cards and they were used in varying formats for a long time afterwards, even in my life time similar but far smaller cards and tapes with punched holes have been used for computers (I was born in the 50s, a time when the local railway line was full of steam trains and a man used to come down the street at dusk with a long pole to strike the gas light igniters, in fact he did not stop coming until the late 60s).

    The truth is that it is excedingly rare for an invention to come out the blue, the product of one persons mind (I'm not convinced that ever happens), nearly all innovation happens in stages, one advance by one person or team allows another's to go forward. The computer as we know it has been progressing steadily for centuries, each generation adding a bit more to the whole.

    After mechanical computing came electronic using valves (tubes my American friends) people like Thomas Harold Flowers who during the war was an engineer who worked for the post office who looked after telephones back then, he joined the Bletchley Park code breakers and built Colossus, the worlds first electronic programmable computer. Tommy Flowers as he was known is really a bit of a forgotten hero, lot's of people know about Alan Turing and the wonderful job he did at Bletchley saving countless lives, hopefully when Jessica does her video on Turin she can explain how the British repaid him by making his life unbearable because he wad gay to the point that he committed suicide… such gratitude. However Flowers is rarely talked about and yet without him Turin and others there would not have had Colossus to do the calculations they so desperately needed to defeat the German Enigma code machine.

    Ada was important in computing but there were a long line of people before and after her who did their bit and progressed computing towards its present state.

  26. Since asked for suggestions for historical profiles, I have an idea that might be interesting. But my idea is less about a single person, and more about an event involving a group of deaf students. If you find a single person you want focus, great, feel free to run with that idea if so chose. Regrettable my own personal knowledge on this subject is limited, but I know it was called Deaf President Now. It happened at Gallaudet University in the U.S.A. It was an all deaf college, that never had a deaf person as president of the college. And then in the 1980's I think, the deaf college students organized a protested demanding a that a deaf be appointed president of the all deaf college. Hence why it was called the Deaf President Now movement. That covers everything I know, so if you do pursue this subject I hope I was able to provide enough info for you to start researching.

  27. Did my computer science mock paper 2 on Friday, before we went in we were having a conversation about Ada Lovelace and the first computer. Jessica, are you a mind reader?

  28. This is so interesting!
    But i’d argue the first “computer” was the Jacquard loom designed/developed around 1804/5 (based on designs from the early to mid 1700s by other frenchman) that used binary punch cards that told the loom to switch out threads and change patterns would inspire the binary coding used for computing! I tend to view this as more of a “base” for computers. And then I would place Ada’s work right after. Ada’s work really speeding up the development of computers, making the path to what computers would be (able to use math formulas, theories, etc.) in the future!

  29. I highly recommend "The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage: The (Mostly) True Story of the First Computer" a comic book that begins as the tale of Ada Lovelace's life and work, before spinning off into a pocket universe where Babbage actually finished the Analytical Engine and the two of them used it to solve crime and get into mischeif. Despite the latter half being fictional the tales are based on real events with very interesting footnotes linking it all together. Overall just a really fun way of learning more about Ada and the Difference Engine.

  30. Came here straight after Doctor Jodie to learn more and they say TV shows and social media teach you nothing… 😊 Away you trot filthy peasants

  31. The first person to write a modern computer language was also a woman, and an Admiral – RADM Grace Hopper. She wrote COBOL and established the computer language responsible for DARPANet, the progenitor of the modern internet.

  32. i'm sure someone has mentioned before and not every british person speaks exactly the same way but jessica's speech patterns in this video keeps reminding me of keira knightley!

  33. OMG I LOVED THIS! I'm a female Software Engineer so obviously Ada is a role model for me and this was a great portrait of her! Well done Jessica!

  34. I was wondering how I missed this video on one of my fave historical figures, and it turns out Youtube unsubscribed me from your channel! Thanks, Youtube, I hate it!

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