The Secret History of Women in Coding
Almost 200 years ago, the first person to be what we would now call a coder was, in fact, a woman: Lady Ada Lovelace. As a young mathematician in England in 1833, she met Charles Babbage, an inventor who was struggling to design what he called the Analytical Engine, which would be made of metal gears and able to execute if/then commands and store information in memory. Enthralled, Lovelace grasped the enormous potential of a device like this. A computer that could modify its own instructions and memory could be far more than a rote calculator, she realized. To prove it, Lovelace wrote what is often regarded as the first computer program in history, an algorithm with which the Analytical Engine would calculate the Bernoulli sequence of numbers. (She wasn’t shy about her accomplishments: “That brain of mine is something more than merely mortal; as time will show”, she once wrote.) But Babbage never managed to build his computer, and Lovelace, who died of cancer at 36, never saw her code executed.