Obsolete Hardware

Ada walked into the study where Mr Babbage was waiting.

“You called for me Lady Lovelace”,
“Yes, I read about your Analytical Engine and had an idea”,

She went to her desk extracting some papers filled with tables, text and numbers.

“What you need is a sequence of order for your machine”.
“But my engine isn’t ready yet, mylady”
“I believe that one day machines like yours will be able to do anything that can be turned into numbers, even books or music. Charles, you need algorithms”.

That’s how Charles Babbage was first to realize how software always outlives hardware.

I think it was the fact that it’s women’s day tomorrow that made me think of female achievements. One story worth retelling is that of Ada Lovelace, the world’s first programmer and the only legitimate child of Lord
Byron. Not only did she write the first ever computer program, but she also saw how machines like this could be programmed to do many other things than just math. Charles Babbage’s machine was never built, but Ada Lovelace’s software still exists. The programming language ADA is named after her, and the second Tuesday of October every year is Ada Lovelace day to celebrate female engineers.

Rochelle selects the picture and the rest of her write stories to the same picture. She is a master of historical fiction, and I wanted to do the same thing. Hope it works.

March 7, 2018

58 responses to “Obsolete Hardware

  1. Brilliant, Björn! And how very fabulous of you to link something like this to Woman’s Day. You rock.

  2. Then there was Grace Hopper (9 Dec 1906 – 1 Jan 1992), an African-American woman who was not only a Rear Admiral in the U.S. Navy but who popularized the idea of machine independent programming languages leading to the development of COBOL.

  3. Thank you for (1) a wonderful bit of history, (2) Honoring Women’s Day, (3) revealing a bit of yourself ~ the engineer part which I think I already knew (?) maybe not and (4) for writing a great story.

  4. Wonderful! Another fine historical fiction this week. She was indeed a visionary who speculated that the Engine ‘might act upon other things besides number… the Engine might compose elaborate and scientific pieces of music of any degree of complexity or extent’.

  5. Cool review of 19th Century geniuses, Bjorn.
    But I am sure you are aware that Babbage’s demonstration machine works to this day, almost 200 years later.

    • The Babbage machine was never built during his lifetime. “The first complete Babbage Engine was completed in London in 2002, 153 years after it was designed.” … I’m sure that the algorithms of Ada Lovelace could run on any computer that exists today. 🙂

  6. Such a terrific and topical piece. My knowledge certain improves with every round of Friday Fictioneers, with writers like you who do their reseach to weave history into the prompt response.

  7. A lovely tribute to Ada Lovelace. A well crafted story with a bit of history attached to it. Thanks for sharing, Bjorn.

  8. A great tribute to Ada Lovelace. What astonishing insight she had into the potential of Babbage’s Difference Engine. I wonder how much Alan Turing was aware of her work?

  9. This is terrific – a lovely little vignette filled with so much history. And thank you for the history – Ada Lovelace day is one we need to make more noise about.

  10. I knew the name seemed familiar. Google featured her some weeks ago on their home page daily cartoon. Fascinating reading, and now I know even more details 🙂

  11. Bjorn, so very nice of you to link your story with Women’s day. Clever …
    I’ll bet there are many women out there who haven’t been recognized for their wonderful contributions. Thank you for introducing me to Ada Lovelace.
    Isadora 😎

  12. How lovely to write a story about Ada Lovelace! She was a rare woman indeed – a gifted mathematician in the days when women weren’t supposed to anything other than supply an heir and learn to play pianoforte. Stylishly done Bjorn

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