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Who Inspires Us? ...Ada Lovelace, The First Computer Programmer


18 Apr 2023 | Alex Avery

Throughout 2023 we’re shining a light on some of those who inspire us throughout history and from around the world. Pioneers in science, technology, music, sport and beyond!

These incredible people can be found highlighted on our website home page too, but in these articles, we take a closer look at their stories and why we’re celebrating them.


In April we’re celebrating the world’s first computer programmer; Ada Lovelace!


Born in London, December 1815, before marriage Ada was named Augusta Ada Byron (daughter to famous romantic poet Lord Byron and his wife, Lady Byron).

It was Lady Byron who (in an effort to steer her daughter away from inheriting her fathers’ behaviours (although this didn’t entirely work)), schooled Ada in science and mathematics. Ada was a studious child, describing her approach as “poetical science”.

At the age of 19 she married William King. William himself was made Earl of Lovelace in 1838, making Ada the Countess of Lovelace.

During her education, Ada spent time with several prominent scientists, mathematicians and engineers of her time – Michael Faraday, Andrew Crosse and David Brewster, to name but a few – as well as author, Charles Dickens!

In 1833, at 18, she entered into a friendship and working relationship with British mathematician, Charles Babbage who went on to invent the Difference Engine and conceive of its successor, the Analytical Engine.

This Analytical Engine captured Ada’s attention and, while translating work by Luigi Menabrea (an Italian engineer), she wrote her own set of supporting notes that contain what is considered to be the first computer program! Ada imagined that computers could operated beyond ‘mere’ number crunching and questioned how society might use technology.

Sadly, Ada lived to be just 36 when she succumbed to uterine cancer. She died on 27th November 1852.

In the late 1970’s and early 80’s, the United States’ Department of Defense commissioned a new programming language (in an effort to clean up over 400 legacy languages). The resulting language was dubbed Ada.


“The more I study, the more insatiable do I feel my genius for it to be.”


What Ada means to us.

It’s undeniable that Ada’s mark on the history of technology is both significant and ground-breaking. But it’s only relatively recently that she’s seeing the credit she deserves.

In her own lifetime, even her tutors doubted her because – at the time – women were seen as incapable of the feats she achieved.

Ada broke the mold of what was expected of her. Perhaps it could be said that the best of her mothers’ work to interest her in science and her father’s eccentricity, creativity and passion combined in her.

At gravity9, combining art and science is a passion for us too and – like Ada – we challenge ourselves to think what technology could be. Innovation is challenging and, at times, it can be frustrating, but we find it leads to the most rewarding results!


“Your best and wisest refuge from all troubles is in your science.”


Although Ada may have made this comment in a more literal way, we also look to technology to imagine solutions for whatever challenges we (or our clients) are facing.

A significant part of our business exists precisely because we look to science, technology (and art) to solve problems.


“As soon as I have got flying to perfection, I have got a scheme about a steam engine.”


Human flight… steam powered travel… what iconic milestones in human innovation (and Ada imagined a flying machine at the age of 12!).

Ada clearly wasn’t content to sit still. Throughout this celebration of all that she was, we can see that her mind and eyes were constantly fixed on the next horizon. The next discovery.

We find that aspirational and reflective of our own design ethos. As much as we work to solve challenges, problems and needs, we also work to ask, “what’s next?”, and to push the things that we do just as far as they can be.


“The Analytical Engine has no pretensions whatever to originate anything. It can do whatever we know how to order it to perform.”


Lastly for this article, something a little more literal but no less poignant. Continuing on the theme of imagination, Ada – from over 170 years ago – reminds us to keep an open mind and to impose no limitations on what we can ask technology to do for us. If we can imagine how to do it, it can be done.

At gravity9 we work every day to push the boundaries of what can be done and what can be achieved via technology in ways others simply don’t think to ask. In that, we hope to be like Ada and to keep pushing boundaries.