Thanks to Google Doodles, we can keep up to date on historic events and discover trivia with which to impress. Last year on December 10th Ada Lovelace was unearthed from relative obscurity. This Enchantress of Numbers, as she was called by her mentor and collaborator Charles Babbage, was actually the first known computer programmer. Today, December 9th would have been the 107th birthday of Grace Hopper, another female pioneer in the field of computer programming.
These women were the original geeks, and prove that the technology is indeed a woman's world.
The Countess of Lovelace, née Augusta Ada Gordon (Byron) in 1815, was the only legitimate child of the famous English Romantic Poet Lord Byron (George Gordon) and mathematician Annabella Milbanke. Though her father left when she was still an infant, her mother still feared his "poetic" influence. As a result, unlike that of most young women, Ada's education emphasized math and science. She was surrounded by the best scientific minds in London, and eventually became a well-respected mathematician herself. So much so that, in 1842 she was asked to translate and expand upon the notes regarding the Analytical Engine by Luigi Menabrea.
The Analytical Engine, which ultimately was never produced, is long considered the precursor to the computer. Babbage asked Ada to expand on the original article. She did. What was unexpected, however was how far she would take her translation. Lovelace proceeded to develop the most elaborate and complete "computer programming," tripling the original article and making her the first person ever to publish coding.
Ada was rediscovered in 1942 by Alan Turing when he wrote a history of the computer. For the full story on Ada Lovelace click here.
A century later, on the other side of the pond, Grace Hopper (NY, 1906-1992), continued to break ground in computer programming. She created the COBOL coding language and coined the term "debugging". To top it all off, she was the oldest commissioned officer on active duty US Navy, where she served as Rear Admiral until 1982. On December 9th, 2013 she too was dedicated her own google doodle.
Thanks to Google, and initiatives such as Ada Lovelace Day, that give visibility to women pioneers in science and math, there are more positive female role models we can share with our daughters, nieces and sisters. Furthermore, when Ada's imaginative mind (supposedly an inheritance from her poet father) coupled with her scientific training, the results were astounding.
The underlying theme is that with the right exposure and encouragement, women not only hold their own in science, they lead. We should not pigeon-hole girls according to one subject either. As proved by the Countess, it's the combination of all our skills that lead to greatness.
Play-i has put together this lovely infographic to show just how important it is that we continue to break preconceptions about girl geeks.