Augusta Ada King, the 19th-century Countess of Lovelace and daughter of Lord Byron is best known for her work on the Analytical Engine, an early computing machine devised by her mentor and friend, Charles Babbage.
Her predictions on how this and other machines might one day move beyond simple arithmetic calculation were unique for her time, and for this reason she is considered a visionary in the field of computational technology.
She is also said by many to be the first computer programmer for the notes she contributed to an Italian article about the Analytical Engine (pictured below).
But Ada Lovelace is way more than the sum of her intellectual, mathematical achievements. She has become, especially in the last five years, an influential symbol of the celebration of women who have contributed significantly and silently or without reward, to the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
This regal painting of Lady Lovelace was completed by British portraitist Margaret Carpenter in 1836.
It was the same year that Lovelace gave birth to the first of three children with her husband William King-Noel, aka the Earl of Lovelace.
The piece was greeted with critical acclaim at the Royal Academy of Arts in London, but Lovelace herself was far from pleased with the likeness. In fact, she responded rather brusquely to it, and to Carpenter’s effort.
“I conclude she is bent on displaying the whole expanse of my capacious jawbone,” Lovelace wrote, “upon which I think the word ‘Mathematics’ should be written.”