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First Computer Programmer

Wednesday 2nd October 2013

Computer Programming

When we think of Computer Programming, we are generally thinking of electronic based computing engines with code running out of some form of electronic memory and typed in using some form of keyboard. Even punch cards partially fit this paradigm. And they seem ancient now.

So would it surprise you to know that the first acknowledged computer programmer was born in 1815, and was a woman?

Ada Lovelace - also known as Lady Ada King, Countess of Lovelace

Ada Lovelace

Ada Lovelace

Introducing Ada Lovelace, or more formally Lady Ada King, Countess of Lovelace. Only daughter of a mathematics loving mother she was educated in science, logic and mathematics and eventually became a good friend of Charles Babbage. She was fascinated by his mechanical clockwork computing engines and although he never built one, she was able to describe them, there operation and programming algorithms for them in better detail than he was. Her papers became the primary works for describing these machines and their use, and eventually inspired Alan Turing in the 1940s that led to the modern computing machine concepts we now take for granted.


She died at 36. I can’t image what else she might have achieved given more time. Her contribution is celebrated on Ada Lovelace Day.


This link leads to a pictorial copy of one of the programs she wrote Ada Lovelace Computing Program.


Here are some references for those wanting tho know more:

As an interesting aside, before the invention of magnetic media, even the software was still hardware.


Successful Endeavours specialise in Electronics Design and Embedded Software Development. Ray Keefe has developed market leading electronics products in Australia for nearly 30 years. This post is Copyright © 2013 Successful Endeavours Pty Ltd.



3 thoughts on “First Computer Programmer

  1. This story reminds me a little of the Story of Bill Gates. He wrote his software and never had a machine to test it on!

    Simon Maselli

  2. I started my career as a programmer with a Commodore Vic 20. Within a month, I hard surpassed the memory capacity. Times sure have changed… Thanks for the interesting tidbit of history. What I especially like is that the FIRST programmer was a woman, how amazing is that – in that era – hopefully it will inspire more young girls to join the sciences, IT and engineering professions.

    Dr Marc Dussault
    The Exponential Growth Strategist

  3. My first computer was a Tandy TRS-80 followed by a Commodore Plus 4 (successor to the Commodore 64).

    And it is really cool that the first programmer was a woman. We have got into the thinking that women aren’t technical and it just isn’t so.

    Ray Keefe

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