Ada Lovelace, born Augusta Ada Byron, Lord Byron’s daughter, was the first to suggest a computer program, back in 1842. She was a formidable mathematician and writer. When translating Italian engineer and mathematician Luigi Menabrea’s memoir on Charles Babbage’s proposed general-purpose machine, the Analytical Engine, Lovelace added her own notes, which contain a method for calculating a sequence of numbers with the Engine, which would have run correctly had the Analytical Engine ever been built. She is thus credited with being the first to propose an algorithm, or set of rules to be followed in calculations, intended to be processed by a machine. As such Ada is the world’s first computer programmer. Babbage’s Analytical Engine has now been recognized as an early model for a computer and Lovelace’s notes as a description of a computer and software.
More on this early computer pioneer can be found in:
-Joan Baum, The Calculating Passion of Ada Byron. Archon Books, 1986. ISBN: 0208021191.
-Dorothy Stein, Ada: A Life and a Legacy. MIT Press Series in the History of Computing. Cambridge, Mass.: The MIT Press. ISBN: 026219242X.
-Betty Alexandra Toole Ed.D., Ada, The Enchantress of Numbers, Prophet of the Computer Age. 1998.
-Catherine Turney, Byron’s Daughter. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons. ISBN: 0684127539.
-Benjamin Woolley, The Bride of Science: Romance, Reason, and Byron’s Daughter. ISBN: 0333724364.