Issue #1 - Ada Lovelace

Welcome to the 1st issue of Heroes of Computer Science!

This will be a (roughly) fortnightly publication that will briefly introduce you to a relevant person in Computer Science, explaining why you should know more about them.

Every so often I find out about a new relevant figure in Computer Science and realise how important they were to my career, without me realising… So this will be a way to find out more about these people (some quite popular, some less known) and to share it with the world.

Ada Lovelace

Ada Lovelace is credited to have written the world's first computer program — making her the first programmer in History! Hard to find a better suited person for the first volume…


She was an English mathematician and writer, best known for her work on Charles Babbage’s proposed mechanical computer.

During 1842–43, Lovelace translated an article from the Italian mathematician Luigi Menabrea on Babbage’s “Analytical Engine”. She appended with the article a long set of notes (three times longer than the translation) where, on the last section, she described a method for calculating a sequence of Bernoulli numbers using Babbage’s proposed computer. She saw the real potential of the device, with possibilities way beyond simple number crunching. In her notes she remarked that:

“[The Analytical Engine] might act upon other things besides number, were objects found whose mutual fundamental relations could be expressed by those of the abstract science of operations, and which should be also susceptible of adaptations to the action of the operating notation and mechanism of the engine... Supposing, for instance, that the fundamental relations of pitched sounds in the science of harmony and of musical composition were susceptible of such expression and adaptations, the engine might compose elaborate and scientific pieces of music of any degree of complexity or extent.”

This machine was never completed and her program was never tested, but her work is considered by many to be the first computer program.

Further reading

There are plenty of books about her life and legacy, here are just a few. You can also check her original notes and, if you find yourself in London, make sure to visit her blue plaque near St James's Square.

Blue Plaque commemorating mathematician and pioneer of computing Ada King, Countess of Lovelace, at 12 St James's Square, St James's, London SW1Y 4RB, City of Westminster.