Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Ada Lovelace’

It is not the first time I have spotlighted her.


Since 1851, obituaries in The New York Times have been dominated by white men. Now, we’re adding the stories of remarkable women.

A century before the dawn of the computer age, Ada Lovelace imagined the modern-day, general-purpose computer. It could be programmed to follow instructions, she wrote in 1843. It could not just calculate but also create, as it “weaves algebraic patterns just as the Jacquard loom weaves flowers and leaves.”

The computer she was writing about, the British inventor Charles Babbage’s Analytical Engine, was never built. But her writings about computing have earned Lovelace — who died of uterine cancer in 1852 at age 36 — recognition as the first computer programmer.


Obituary writing is more about life than death: the last word, a testament to a human contribution.

Yet who gets remembered — and how — inherently involves judgment. To look back at the obituary archives can, therefore, be a stark lesson in how society valued various achievements and achievers.

Since 1851, The New York Times has published thousands of obituaries: of heads of state, opera singers, the inventor of Stove Top stuffing and the namer of the Slinky. The vast majority chronicled the lives of men, mostly white ones; even in the last two years, just over one in five of our subjects were female.

Charlotte Brontë wrote “Jane Eyre”; Emily Warren Roebling oversaw construction of the Brooklyn Bridge when her husband fell ill; Madhubala transfixed Bollywood; Ida B. Wells campaigned against lynching. Yet all of their deaths went unremarked in our pages, until now.

Below you’ll find obituaries for these and others who left indelible marks but were nonetheless overlooked. We’ll be adding to this collection each week, as Overlooked becomes a regular feature in the obituaries section, and expanding our lens beyond women.

You can use this form to nominate candidates for future “Overlooked” obits. Read an essay from our obituaries editor about how he approaches subjects and learn more about how the project came to be.

Read more >>>>

Read Full Post »

Below is the obituary of Lady Lovelace, Lord Byron’s daughter and a pioneer of computational theory and mechanical computation.  Here is her fascinating story, thoroughly researched and beautifully presented by Stephen Wolfram  as part of a celebration of the 200th anniversary of her birth.

Untangling the Tale of Ada Lovelace

Renowned scientist Stephen Wolfram dives into the relationship that gave birth to the age of computers

Portrait of Ada Lovelace at age 20 (from The New York Public Library)

Ada Lovelace was born 200 years ago this month. To some she is a great hero in the history of computing; to others an overestimated minor figure. I’ve been curious for a long time what the real story is. And in preparation for her bicentennial, I decided to try to solve what for me has always been the “mystery of Ada.”

It was much harder than I expected. Historians disagree. The personalities in the story are hard to read. The technology is difficult to understand. The whole story is entwined with the customs of 19th-century British high society. And there’s a surprising amount of misinformation and misinterpretation out there.

But after quite a bit of research — including going to see many original documents — I feel like I’ve finally gotten to know Ada Lovelace, and gotten a grasp on her story. In some ways it’s an ennobling and inspiring story; in some ways it’s frustrating and tragic.

It’s a complex story, and to understand it, we’ll have to start by going over quite a lot of facts and narrative.

Read the article >>>>>

Read Full Post »