Most people are quite familiar with the names Steve Jobs and Bill Gates. Both men are icons in the world of computer science. However, many of us are not very familiar with women who have made significate contributions in the field of computer science. For example, the next time you are surrounded by a group of friends, ask them if they are familiar with Augusta Ada King, the Countess of Lovelace.
Ada was born more than two hundred years ago on December 10th, 1815. The only daughter of Lord Byron shook up the world as it was known at the time with her contributions to logic, mathematics, and the development of computers in their early history. Lord Byron was a famous poet. Ada’s mother, Anne Isabella Byron, possessed so much disdain for her husband that in a move of spite she had her daughter educated in mathematics. Anne’s thinking was that education in mathematics would eliminate the possibility of Ada picking up her father’s love for poetry and sharing in his other compulsions. However, Anne’s tactic failed to bear the results she desired.
Ada was close to her father her entire life. She also picked many of his bad traits and was known to see other men besides her husband and gamble a bit.
Ada befriended mathematician Charles Babbage when she was 17 years old. Babbage dreamed of building an “analytical machine” and found a receptive ear to the idea with Anna. In fact, Anna developed bigger visions for Babbage’s idea than he possessed himself.
Ada helped Babbage create his “analytical machine” and possessed the vision to pen a paper explaining how a similar machine will one day not only calculate numbers but will also compose scientifically elaborate music pieces of all levels of complexity. Many credit Ada of Lovelace with laying the groundwork for modern computer science.
Elizabeth Montague was heralded in her day for her work in the field of education. She was also known to be well ahead of her time in the area of social reform. Some historians have expressed a feeling that her contributions were impactful mostly because of the considerable wealth Elizabeth Montague possessed. But what no one argues is her ability as a writer and critic.
Libraries across Britain, as well as, the Huntington Library in Califonia are home to some of the most important letters penned by Montague.
The love Elizabeth posses for literature is evident in her role as the founding member of the literary discussion group, Bluestocking Society. The group mostly consisted of privileged women of the time but a few men were invited to participate in the regular discussions.
The Bluestocking Society proved to be revolutionary for its time period and did a lot to push back against stereotypes that suggested women belonged in the home. In many ways, the group started by Elizabeth Montague became an advocacy group for the improvement of life for women. It was also a support network where women used writing, reading, and artwork to encourage and support each other.