Chika Onyedike

Finding stories of important unknowns

Ada Byron King, The Countess of Lovelace


The Countess of LovelaceHello Welcome Visitors,

I’m Chika and the woman scientist I will be focusing on is Ada Byron who is also known as The Countess of Lovelace. I choose her because I was impressed to know that the first blueprint of a computer was made with a woman’s help. Also, the fact that her father was Lord Byron interested me because I thought “I wonder how his child turned out?” They both did work in completely different fields but they still influenced the world so my curiosity got the best of me. I think Ada Byron is a good role model because she strived to keep learning in a time period where intelligence was frownedupon in a woman. She also made an impact in the world with her Bernoulli number program even though she was acknowledged for her work long after her death. I will do my best to find out all I can on The Countess of Lovelace. I hope you will be impressed with my research.

Ada Augusta Byron, The Countess of Lovelace

Children of celebrities are assumed to have the best of everything in life. From schooling to clothes to access of money, in the eyes of normal people they seem to have it all. But in the case of Ada Byron, The Countess of Lovelace, her life was the exact opposite. She was born on December 10th, 1815 to Lord George Byron and Anna Milbanke. Shortly after her birth, her
infamous poet of a father separated from her mother. Although Milbanke was extremely cautious when taking her daughter out of the house for fear of her being stolen away by Byron, her worries were of her own imagination because Byron could not even afford to take his legitimate daughter with him out of the country. Once he left England, he never saw Ada again. With Byron gone, Milbanke wanted to make sure that Ada would be nothing like her father so she was tutored in math rather than in literature. Even though, Ada never actually knew her father she sympathized with him and would not let her mother’s harsh remarks over his person and character affect her feelings toward him. When she turned 17, Ada was introduced to an older man named Charles Babbage who was developing what we now know is a computer. Interested in his findings, Ada continued to learn more about mathematics to assist Babbage in his work even after marrying Lord William King and bearing him three children. Her math tutors consisted of William Frend, Mary Somerville, and Augustus De Morgan.With their help she was able to develop her own theories and notes, mainly her notes on Bernoulli numbers, and translate Babbage’s work to the general English public (L.F. Menabrea wrote about Babbage’s work in French). Unfortunately, on November 27th, 1852 she died of uterine cancer. Her last wish was to be buried beside her father who she had never known. Her contribution to Babbage’s work is the reason why people have access to computers today and she should be remembered fondly as the first woman computer programmer.

Augustus De Morgan vs. Ada Byron, The Countess of Lovelace British Mathmatician




In a presentation I conducted last week, I chose Augustus De Morgan, a fellow mathematician, to compare Ada Byron, The Countess of Lovelace, with. Although the most logical choice for a male scientist comparison would have been Charles Babbage, I felt it would be more of a challenge finding another person who had been previously acquainted with Byron. Augustus De Morgan had, at one point of Ada Byron’s life, been her tutor. He was the person who actually taught Byron the Bernoulli numbers in the first place. It was with  his help that she can be called first computer programmer.

Compare and contrast of The Countess of Lovelace and Augustus De Morgan

De Morgan- Private Schools, Trinity College/Cambridge Lovelace-
De Morgan- Professor of Mathematics of London University Lovelace-
Compensation: De Morgan- Yes Lovelace-
Promotion: De Morgan- President of the Mathematical Society Lovelace-
Awards: De Morgan- Crater of the moon and the Headquarters of the London Mathematical Society named after him. Lovelace-
Has an Ada Lovelace Day and a computer language named after her.
Affect on Family Life:
De Morgan- Was the breadwinner
of his family so he had to have a job
Her work with Babbage was considered her hobby so it did not disrupt her family life.

During the 17th century, women did not have any rights to their person and everything was handled by the men in their families. In Ada Byron’s case, since her father was dead then her mother was able to take care of everything including her education. However this meant that she as to get tutors or a governess. At the time there weren’t schools for just girls yet so
this is why Augustus De Morgan was able to go to private school while Byron did not. Although women did not have many opportunities for job, Byron could have been a governess but that would have been below her station in life. De Morgan, on the other hand, had to constantly have a job so he could provide for his family. Both of their awards came after their death, so in that particular category they are tied. So in the end, De Morgan benefited during his lifetime because he was male. Due to how the gender roles were assigned during their lifetime, men would have power in all things and that is why De Morgan could do more why Byron could not. Men could get more money while women could not. Men could achieve more things while women could not; the list goes on. However if Byron had lived in our time then she could have had a chance to develop her mathematical expertise. She could have really gone head to head with De Morgan and could have won but that is something we will never find out.

WITI: Women in Technology International and the Countess of LovelaceBuild, Empower, Inspire




Women in Technology International is an organization dedicated to advancement of women in technology. It began in 1989 as an email based network business by Carolyn Leighton. The organization has 140,000+ registered members which include men as well. The primary mission statement is to empower women. WITI is like a huge support group that asks for dues and gives classes on leadership and technology. Women in the group help each other with conflicts by providing advice and make sure to NOT bash men.  They want to be recognized as a formulation of women trying to better themselves and make connections on the way and not as women who are bitter to what other men receive in their working system. From what information can be found about WITI, Ada Byron would have been a part of the organization had she had been alive when it was created. Byron never had the chance to develop her computer skills so WITI’s values and principles would have benefited her in the field she was trying to branch out in.  Furthermore, without Ada Byron, WITI would have never been created so each side has a give and take aspect that contributes to the other. They both stand for stepping outside of the box and
differentiating themselves from anybody else; a motto we can all live by.








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A Delightful Surprise!


I love listening to podcasts and I just remembered that Stuff You Missed in History Class did a podcast on Ada Byron!!! Can you say excitement??? So I am posting the link on here. Enjoy!


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A Delightful Surprise Part 2!!


Hello everyone,

I thought that while I was busy creating my extremely impressive (because I am making it) presentation that boredom might set in for you all. So while I was taking a much needed break from work, I found another podcast and this time the topic was on Women in Science!!! Basically it is like an overview of the class this blog is for and…guess what???? Ada Byron gets a shoutout in the podcast too.  So I am posting this for you guys!! Enjoy!

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Bibliography on The Countess of Lovelace


Primary Source:

Menabrea, L.F. Sketch of the Analytical Engine. Trans. Ada Lovelace. John Walker. Oct. 1842.Web. 11 Sept. 2011.

L.F. Menabrea had actually been astudent of Charles Babbage during his only presentation of the Analytical Engine which is how he came to know of his teacher’s blueprint to the first computer. He wrote Sketch of the Analytical Engine in Italian and so a translator was needed.  This is where Lovelace comes in. Along with translating the work, she also added in her own notes to the equation. Most noted are her notes on the Bernoulli numbers. This source is important in
understanding the way that Ada Lovelace worked. Her notes are her only evidence of being anywhere involved in the Analytical Engine and should always be referenced when discussing her life.


Secondary Sources:

De Morgan, Sophia. Memoir of Augustus De Morgan. London: Longmans, Green, and CO, 1882. Print.

This biography on Augustus De Morgan’s life is the perfect secondary source to find information on him becuase his wife wrote it. She had direct contact with De Morgan she accurately describes his life and thoughts. Also there are letters written by De Morgan in this book to several influential people like William Frend, Sir John Herschel, and the like. Furthermore, De Morgan’s list of articles and novels written are put down in the bigoraphy in chronological order. Any information a person wants to know about De Morgan can be found in this book.

Kim, Eugene and Betty Toole. “Ada and the First Computer.” Scientific American. Scientific American, May 1999. Web. 11

The article criticizes the use of calling Ada Lovelace the “first computer programmer.” In their eyes, Lovelace is only an interpreter of Charles Babbage’s work. Her mathematical notes interspersed within her translation of Babbage’s work brought Lovelace the prestige that people associate with her name now. However, the article does suggest that Lovelace is a female pioneer of the computing field. Overall, this source does bring a different perspective to the story of Lovelace and is
extremely useful to create a debate/argument of what her work has done for society and more depth to any research done on her in the future.

Langley,Doris.  Ada, Countess of Lovelace: Byron’s Legitimate Daughter. New York: Harper & Row, 1977. Print.

Although this book has to be classified as a secondary source, it fulfills its purpose of bringing Ada Lovelace’s life to the forefront of a reader’s mind. Langley took it upon herself to find letters from, to, and about the Countess and proceeded to use them as evidence while describing the woman’s life. The biography contains the various experiences that Lovelace went through as well as insight to her work with Babbage. It is possible to also learn more about her childhood which could be its own book by itself. This biography is a stepping stone into getting accurate information about the woman.

Mattis,Michael. “Repurposing Ada”. Salon Media Group, 16 Mar .1999.Web. 11 Sept. 2011

His interpretation of criticism of Ada Lovelace does not seem professional at all. He talks about her lineage and also
of the article that Eugene Kim and Betty Toole did together instead of trying to make his own judgment of what Ada Lovelace was capable of. His article reads more like a gossip column than an informative piece of information used for
research purposes and the like.  After going through this brief article, any use of it can be deemed irrelevant.

Stein, Dorothy. Ada, a Life and a Legacy.  Massachusetts: MIT Press, 1985. Print.

Generally speaking, this book is not as helpful as Langley’s biography in getting information about The Countess of
Lovelace. Nevertheless, it has its own quotes from Lovelace, her family, and her friends. This biography as well as Langley’s contains pictures of Lovelace and all those close to her. Despite the fact that it is not on the same caliber as the other book when it comes to information, it is still useful in finding facts on Lovelace. If Langley’s biography could not be found then this book should be the next in command.  It also can back up most of what is said in Langley’s book.  So fact checking is possible when using both biographies which helps solidify Lovelace’s history.

Tertiary Source:

“Ada Lovelace.” Wikipedia. Wikipedia, n.d.Web. 13 Sept. 2011.

Although it generalizes whatever topic it has been searched with, Wikipedia does provide links to other sources related to
the subject. Finding information on Ada Lovelace was made easy using Wikipedia as a database. Besides that, then Wikipedia’s page on Ada Lovelace is mediocre at best, however, it is still a useful source. It gives out facts but with
references that makes finding more work possible.

—“Augustus De Morgan.” Wikipedia. Wikipedia, n.d.Web. 22 Oct. 2011.
A person can find the bare minimum of what De Morgan did on Wikipedia. It is a good basis to start with but finding a good secondary source will be all a person need’s to have a good presentation or paper. It does show what math equations De Morgan was known for which will make searching for information easier. Also it does provide the researcher with connections to De Morgan’s more famous family members. In short, De Morgan’s wikipedia page can help a person get an idea of what they are looking for.
“WITI.” WITI. n.d. WITI – Women In Technology International. Web. 27 Nov. 2011.
A person could find the most information on WITI with this site. There are videos of the founder and other members available for viewing. It provides people with a better undestanding on what WITI is. Furthermore, if joining WITI was a choice for the reader then it could be done on the site as well. This website is extremely helpful and informative.
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