Who wrote the first algorithm used for a machine?

And the answer: Ada Lovelace.  
Photo credit: public domain.

Ada Lovelace, born December 10, 1815,  was an English mathematician and the daughter of poet Lord Byron. Along with writing the first algorithm, she detailed the concept of "looping," in which a code repeats a series of instructions. Her contributions were virtually unknown until the 1950's.

Brilliant mathematician Ada Lovelace is most well-known for creating the first ever computer program. From a young age, Lovelace was pushed towards the sciences by her mother, who (unconventionally, for her time) disapproved of the arts. Luckily, it took. At just 12 years old, young Lovelace had fixed herself on learning a rather peculiar talent: how to fly. Methodically and enthusiastically studying the anatomy of birds, she wrote a book on her findings titled Flyology, and began to design a flying machine. Lovelace wrote to her mother:

“I have got a scheme to make a thing in the form of a horse with a steamengine in the inside so contrived as to move an immense pair of wings, fixed on the outside of the horse, in such a manner as to carry it up into the air while a person sits on its back.”

While still in her twenties, Lovelace was commissioned to translate a French transcript of one of her mentor’s lectures, but instead ended up writing an extensive collection of algorithms that would come to be known as the first computer program in history. That’s not to mention—Lovelace’s mentor was none other than Charles Babbage, affectionately known as “The Father of the Computer” himself. Under his mentorship, Lovelace began to expand her understanding of all that an “analytical machine” (i.e. computer) could do.

Did you know?

Yesterday, October 11, was Ada Lovelace day! In her lifetime, Lovelace’s scientific contributions hardly attracted any attention. It wasn't until the 20th century, with the beginning of the computer age, that the significance of her notes was recognized. Today she is known across the world, in part due to the naming of the computer language “ADA” in her honor. For Lovelace’s achievements, she’s now very rightly known as a pioneer of modern computer science.

Learn more about Ada Lovelace here.

Question of the Day Mobile App


Learn something new everyday. Get the Question of the Day delivered to your inbox each day!

You've successfully subscribed to Question of the Day
Great! Next, complete checkout for full access to Question of the Day
Welcome back! You've successfully signed in.
Success! Your account is fully activated, you now have access to all content.