'Who Did You Say Invented Computer Programming?'

Neal Burdick '72

In the mid-nineteenth century, Ada Lovelace (1815-1851, technically Lady Ada Gordon King, Countess of Lovelace, daughter of the English Romantic poet Lord Byron, whose actual name was George Gordon), wrote detailed notes about the potential use of a machine to interpret instructions and produce outcomes. “As a result,” said former Science Librarian Nicole Nawalaniec, “she is often regarded as the first computer programmer.” 

In recognition of her accomplishments, and to raise awareness and commemorate the achievements of women in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields, last October 13 several sponsors on campus held Ada Lovelace Day, complete with refreshments, prizes and First-Year Cup eligibility. (The date, the second Tuesday in October, “is arbitrary, chosen in an attempt to make the day maximally convenient,” according to findingada.com/about/when-is-ald.)

Events included Wikipedia Edit-A-Thons (“Collectively, we want participants to create or make improvements to existing pages that focus on women in STEM in order to increase visibility of this information on the web,” said the campus announcement) and Task Automation Workshops (“We will demonstrate how to use IFTTT, an application that gives you creative control over the products and apps that you love, like your social media, DropBox, Google Drive, email, calendar and more.”) 

We have no doubt Countess Lovelace would have been pleased.