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The Programming World needs you?

This has been a very productive and interesting week, not least when I received a mail from Allison, asking for my thoughts on the graphic here and below,

If you have read my blog posts about Ada Lovelace, Grace Hopper, or The ENIAC “Computers” you will understand how the work of the online college is very much of the same ethos as the posts I have been making here under the Soft Footsteps series.

The intention of the Soft Footsteps blog (and the book) was to inspire people to extend themselves and make the most of their talents. The online college goes one step further by inspiring people to make “2012 their Code Year” and provides access to the educational tools that will help them improve their skill base.

This line of study certainly seems to be gaining momentum in the US and it would be interesting to find out if there is anything similar available in the UK?

Please Include Attribution to OnlineCollege.org With This Graphic Programming Infographic

 
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Posted by on September 24, 2012 in 21st century

 

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Grace Hopper

Grace Hopper

(December 9, 1906 – January 1, 1992)

One of the first programmers of the Harvard Mark 1 Computer , Rear Admiral Grace Murray Hopper was a naval officer and an American computer scientist.

Grace Murray Hopper

Grace Murray Hopper

As the first programmer of the Mark I Calculator and developer of the first compiler for a computer programming language, she was a true pioneer in the field of computing technology.

In 1949, Hopper became an employee of the Eckert-Mauchly Computer Corporation [Eckert and Mauchly were the inventors of ENIAC] joined the team developing the UNIVAC I. The company was taken over by Remington Rand corporation, in the early 1950s. Grace Hopper’s original compiler work was achieved whilst she worked for the Remington Rand corporation. The compiler was known as the A compiler and its first version was A-0. Later versions were released commercially as the ARITH-MATIC, MATH-MATIC and FLOW-MATIC compilers.

She later returned to the Navy where she worked on validation software for the programming language COBOL and its compiler. COBOL was defined by the CODASYL committee which extended her FLOW-MATIC language with some ideas from the IBM equivalent, the COMTRAN.

Programming languages at that time were in machine code or languages close to machine code (such as assembly language). It was Grace Hopper’s idea that programmes could be written in a language that was closer to English and more intuitive.

In the 1970s, she pioneered the implementation of standards testing of computers, most significantly for programming languages, particularly for COBOL and the original FORTRAN language, (Formula Translator/Translation, today known as Fortran). The Navy Tests for conformance to these language standards led to significant convergence among the programming language dialects of the major computer vendors. These tests, and their official administration, were taken over in the 1980s by the National Bureau of Standards, now the National Institute of Standards and Technology, NIST.

Hopper retired from the Naval Reserve with the rank of Commander at the end of 1966. She was recalled to active duty in August of 1967 for a six-month period that turned into an indefinite assignment. She again retired in 1971 but was asked to return to active duty again in 1972. She was promoted to Captain in 1973 by Admiral Elmo R. Zumwalt, Jr..

After Rep. Philip Crane saw her on a March 1983 segment of 60 Minutes, he championed a joint resolution in the House of Representatives which led to her promotion to Commodore by special Presidential appointment. By 1985 she became a Rear Admiral, Lower Half. She retired (involuntarily) from the Navy on August 14, 1986. At a celebration held in Boston on the USS Constitution to celebrate her retirement, Hopper was awarded the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, the highest award possible by the Department of Defense. At the moment of her retirement, she was the oldest officer in the US Navy and aboard the oldest ship in the US Navy.

She was then hired as a senior consultant to Digital Equipment Corporation, a position she retained until her death in 1992, aged 85.

Grace Hopper

Rear Admiral Grace Hopper

Her primary activity in this capacity was as a Goodwill Ambassador, lecturing widely on the early days of computers, her career, and on efforts that computer vendors could take to make life easier for their users. She visited a large fraction of Digital engineering facilities where she generally received a standing ovation at the conclusion of her remarks. She always wore her Navy full dress uniform to these lectures. She was laid to rest with full military honours in Arlington National Cemetery.

Honours List

  • 1969, she won the first “man of the year” award from the Data Processing Management Association.

  • 1971, the annual “Grace Murray Hopper Award for Outstanding Young Computer Professionals” was established by the Association for Computing Machinery.

  • 1973, she became the first person from the United States and the first woman of any nationality to be made a Distinguished Fellow of the British Computer Society.

  • 1986, upon her retirement she received the Defense Distinguished Service Medal.

  • 1987, she became a Computer History Museum Fellow Award Recipient.

  • 1988, she received the Golden Gavel Award at the Toastmasters International convention in Washington, DC.

  • 1991, she received the National Medal of Technology.

  • 1996, USS Hopper (DDG-70) was launched. Nicknamed Amazing Grace, it is on a very short list of U.S. military vessels named after women.

  • The Fleet Numerical Meteorology and Oceanography Center is located at 7 Grace Hopper Avenue in Monterey, California.

  • Grace Murray Hopper Park, located on South Joyce Street in Arlington, Virginia, is a small memorial park in front of her former residence (River House Apartments) and is now owned by Arlington County, Virginia.

  • Women at the world’s largest software company, Microsoft Corporation, formed an employee group called “Hoppers” and established a scholarship in her honour. Hoppers has over 3000 members worldwide.

  • Brewster Academy, a school located in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire, USA, dedicated their computer lab to her in 1985, calling it the Grace Murray Hopper Center for Computer Learning. Hopper had spent her childhood summers at a family home in Wolfeboro.

  • An administration building on Naval Support Activity Annapolis (Previously known as Naval Station Annapolis) in Annapolis, Maryland is named “The Grace Hopper Building” in her honour.

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All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the authors.  Although great care has been taken to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information contained in this work neither the author, contributors, employees or advisers are able to accept any legal liability for any consequential loss or damage, however caused, arising as a result of any actions taken on the basis of the information contained in this work. All third-party brands and trademarks belong to their respective owners.  Copyright : Maggie Baldry

 
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Posted by on June 17, 2011 in Soft Footsteps

 

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The ENIAC “Computers” Part 2

This post will look at the work of Jean Bartik, Betty Holberton, Marlyn Meltzer, Frances Spence and Ruth Teitelbaum on the ENIAC computer,

Jean Bartik

Betty Jean Jennings is on the left of this picture

Born Betty Jean Jennings in Gentry County, Missouri in 1924 and attended Northwest Missouri State Teachers College, majoring in mathematics. In 1945, she was hired by the University of Pennsylvania to work for Army Ordnance at Aberdeen Proving Ground. When the ENIAC computer was developed for the purpose of calculating ballistics trajectories, she was selected to be one of its first programmers. Bartik later became part of a group charged with converting the ENIAC into a stored program computer; in the original implementation,

She went on to work on the BINAC and UNIVAC I computers. Jean Jennings Bartik was a friend for over 60 years with Kay McNulty Mauchly Antonelli. John Mauchly walked Jean down the aisle when she married and it was at Jean’s wedding reception that John had the courage to approach Kay about dating. Jean Jennings Bartik has a museum in her name at Northwest Missouri State University in Maryville, Missouri. The museum boasts rare one-of-a-kind ENIAC, BINAC and UNIVAC exhibits, including an original salesman pot-metal model of the UNIVAC I.

Betty Holberton

Born Frances Elizabeth Snyder in Philadelphia in 1917. She studied at the University of Pennsylvania, majoring in English and journalism, although she had excelled in mathematics during high school. She was hired by the Moore School of Engineering during World War II to compute ballistics trajectories and was selected as one of the programmers for the ENIAC computer which was designed to perform these calculations electronically.

She was the inventor of the mnemonic instruction set (called C-10) for the BINAC, which Grace Hopper [who is also featured in this section] described as “the basis for all subsequent programming languages.” It has been said that in creating this, she started the movement away from switch assemblies and towards keyboards as the primary input device for computers.

 She also wrote the first generative programming system (SORT/MERGE), and the first statistical analysis package (for the 1950 US Census). She participated in the early standards development for the COBOL and Fortran programming languages.

 She was the person who suggested grey as the colour for UNIVAC computers (rather than black as it was at the time).

 In 1997 she received the Augusta Ada Lovelace Award, which is the highest honour possible for a computer programmer and she was also inducted into the Women in Technology International Hall of Fame, along with the other original ENIAC programmers

Marlyn Meltzer

Born Marlyn Wescoff graduated from Temple University in 1942. She was hired by the Moore School of Engineering later that year to perform weather calculations, mainly because she knew how to operate an adding machine.

In 1943, she was hired to perform calculations for ballistics trajectories and in 1945, she was selected to become one of the first group of ENIAC programmers. She resigned from the team in 1947 to get married before ENIAC was relocated to the Aberdeen Proving Grounds.

Frances Spence

Born Frances Bilas in Philadelphia in 1922, Fran attended Temple University but then was awarded a scholarship to Chestnut Hill College. She majored in mathematics with a minor in physics and graduated in 1942. While there, she met Kathleen McNulty, who also later became an ENIAC programmer. McNulty and Spence were hired by the Moore School of Engineering to compute ballistics trajectories. Both were selected to become part of the first group of programmers for the ENIAC, which was designed to perform the same calculations. In 1947, she married Homer Spence, an Army electrical engineer from the Aberdeen Proving Grounds who had been assigned to the ENIAC project and later became head of the Computer Research Branch. Shortly after that, she resigned to raise a family.

Ruth Teitelbaum

(née Lichterman) (1924 – 1986, Dallas)

Teitelbaum graduated from Hunter College with a B.Sc. in Mathematics. She was hired by the Moore School of Engineering to compute ballistics trajectories and was later selected as one of the first programmers for the ENIAC.. She travelled with ENIAC to the Ballistics Research Laboratory at the Aberdeen Proving Grounds where she remained for two more years to train the next group of ENIAC programmers. She died in Dallas, Texas in 1986.

Sign outside University of Pennsylvania

Sign outside University of Pennsylvania

 This generation of ‘computers’ and their hard work and dedication proved the ideas and was the signal that gave rise to the birth of the Information Age. A testament to this significant achievement is proudly displayed outside of the University of Pennsylvania. But, without the work of the dedicated programmers – Kay McNulty, Betty Jennings, Betty Snyder, Marlyn Wescoff, Fran Bilas and Ruth Lichterman – this step into the future of information technology would not have happened

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In 1969 our next technological, historical pioneer won the first “man of the year” award from the Data Processing

Grace Hopper

Rear Admiral Grace Hopper

Management Association and in 1973, she became the first person from the United States and the first woman of any nationality to be made a Distinguished Fellow of the British Computer Society Rear Admiral Grace Murray Hopper.

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All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the authors.  Although great care has been taken to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information contained in this work neither the author, contributors, employees or advisers are able to accept any legal liability for any consequential loss or damage, however caused, arising as a result of any actions taken on the basis of the information contained in this work. All third-party brands and trademarks belong to their respective owners.  Copyright : Maggie Baldry

 
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Posted by on June 16, 2011 in Soft Footsteps

 

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The ENIAC “Computers” Part 1

If Augusta Ada Lovelace’s notes are recognised as one of the first descriptions of a computer and software our next set of historical stories involves 6 ladies who did most of the programming of ENIAC by manipulating its switches and cables. These ladies job titles became known as ‘computers‘. The ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrator And Computer) was the first large-scale, reprogrammable, electronic, digital computer. Its first programs were related to the design of the hydrogen bomb. It is during World War II where we will meet our next historical pioneers, the original programmers of the ENIAC , Kay McNulty, Betty Jennings, Betty Snyder, Marlyn Wescoff, Fran Bilas and Ruth Lichterman.


The original programmers of the ENIAC

Programmers operate the ENIAC’s main control panel at the Moore School of Electrical Engineering. “U.S. Army Photo” from the archives of the ARL Technical Library.
Left: Betty Jean Jennings; right: Fran Bilas.

The Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer [ENIAC], was the first large-scale, electronic, digital computer capable of being reprogrammed to solve a full range of computing problems, although earlier computers had been built with some of these properties. ENIAC was designed and built to calculate artillery firing tables for the U.S. Army’s Ballistics Research Laboratory.

The contract was signed on June 5, 1943 and Project PX was constructed by the University of Pennsylvania’s Moore School of Electrical Engineering from July, 1943. It was unveiled on February 14, 1946 at Penn, having cost almost $500,000. ENIAC was shut down on November 9, 1946 for a refurbishment and a memory upgrade, and was transferred to Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland in 1947. There, on July 29 of that year, it was turned on and would be in continuous operation until 11:45 p.m. on October 2, 1955.

ENIAC was a “one-off” design and was never repeated. The design freeze in 1943 meant that the computer had a number of technical problems which were not solved, notably the inability to store a program. But the ideas generated from the work and the impact it had on people were profoundly influential in the development of later computers, initially EDVAC, EDSAC and SEAC.

Kay McNulty, Betty Jennings, Betty Snyder, Marlyn Wescoff, Fran Bilas and Ruth Lichterman, were the six women who did most of the programming of ENIAC by manipulating its switches and cables.

Kathleen “Kay” McNulty Mauchly Antonelli
Born Kathleen Rita McNulty in the Creeslough Gaeltacht (Irish-speaking region) of County Donegal, Ireland in 1921 during the Irish War of Independence. On the night of her birth, her father, James, who was an Irish Republican Army training officer, was arrested and imprisoned in

Kay McNulty

Kathleen's Graduation picture from Wikipedia

Derry Gaol for 2 years. On his release, the family emigrated to the United States in October 1924 and settled in Pennsylvania where James McNulty established a successful stone masonry business. At the time, Kathleen was unable to speak any English, only Gaelic; she would remember prayers in Gaelic for the rest of her life.

After attending parochial grade school in Chestnut Hill and Hallahan Catholic Girls High School in Philadelphia, she graduated with a degree in mathematics from Chestnut Hill College for Women in June 1942 (the attack on Pearl Harbour had shaken her senior year). Out of a class of 92 women, Kathleen was one of 3 math majors to graduate that year, and all of them had taken every mathematics course offered: two semesters of algebra, the history of math, integral calculus, spherical trigonometry, differential calculus, projective geometry, partial differential equations, and statistics. (In high school she had taken a year of algebra, a year of plane geometry, a second year of algebra, and a year of trigonometry and solid geometry.)

During her third year of college, Kathleen began to look for work. She knew that she wanted to work in mathematics but she didn’t want to be a schoolteacher. She learned that insurance companies’ actuarial positions required a master’s degree and were seldom filled by women anyway. Feeling that business training would make her more employable, she took as many business courses as her college schedule would permit: accounting, money and banking, business law, economics, and statistics.

A week or two after graduating, she happened to see a U.S. Civil Service ad in The Philadelphia Inquirer. Under the headline “Wanted: Women With Degrees in Mathematics,” it read,

The need for women engineers and scientists is growing both in industry and government… Women are being offered scientific and engineering jobs where formerly men were preferred. Now is the time to consider your job in science and engineering…

The slogan could be found elsewhere as ‘WOMEN WANTED!’.
The Army was looking for women with mathematics degrees–right there in Philadelphia. She immediately called her two co-math majors,
Frances Bilas and Josephine Benson. The latter couldn’t meet up with them, so Kathleen and Fran met in Philadelphia one morning in June 1946 for an interview in a building on South Broad Street (likely the Union League Building), where they were informed of positions available through Aberdeen Proving Grounds at the University of Pennsylvania. Shortly thereafter, the two both received letters telling them to report for a week at the Moore School of Electrical Engineering, University of Pennsylvania, 33rd and Walnut Streets, beginning a day in early July 1942. At a starting annual salary of $1,620, pay for the position for computing ballistics trajectories used for artillery firing tables (mostly using mechanical desk calculators and extremely large sheets of columned paper) was low (S.P. 4, a “sub-professional” pay grade), but both Kathleen and Fran were satisfied to have attained employment that utilized their educations, during wartime, having had no prior employment experience, and that served the war effort. Her official civil service title, as printed on her employment documentation, was “computer.” With about 10 other “girls” (as the female ‘computers’ were called) and 4 men, a group recently brought to the Moore School from Aberdeen Proving Grounds in Maryland. Kay and Fran would conduct their work in a large, empty classroom on the first floor of the Moore School; the same room would later be the one where the ENIAC was built and operated until December 1946.

Despite all their coursework, their mathematics training had not prepared Kay (as she came to be called early on at the Moore School) and Fran for their work calculating trajectories for firing tables: they were both unfamiliar with numerical integration methods used to compute the trajectories, and the textbook lent to them to study from (Numerical Mathematical Analysis, 1st Edition by James B. Scarborough, Oxford University Press, 1930) provided little enlightenment.

The two newcomers ultimately learned how to perform the steps of their calculations, accurate to ten decimal places, through practice and the advisement of a well-liked supervisor, Lila Todd. A total of about 75 young female ‘computers’ were employed at the Moore School in this period, many of them taking courses from Adele Goldstine (who wrote the complete technical description for the first digital computer), Mary Mauchly, and Mildred Kramer. The work was tedious, and many of them dropped out due to workload, but Kay became prominent among the computing women.


Kay, Alyse and Sis

Kay, Alyse and Sis, picture from Wikipedia

Kay McNulty, Alyse Snyder, and Sis Stump operate the differential analyzer in the basement of the Moore School of Electrical Engineering, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, circa 1942-1945.

After 2 or 3 months, Kay and Fran were moved to work on the differential analyzer (picture above) in the basement of the Moore School, the largest and most sophisticated analog mechanical calculator of the time, of which there were only 3 in the United States and 5 or 6 in the world (all of the others were in Great Britain). Using the analyzer (invented by Vannevar Bush of MIT a decade prior and made more precise with improvements by the Moore School staff), a single trajectory computation, about 40 hours of work on a mechanical desk calculator, could be performed in about 50 minutes.

Vannevar Bush

Vannevar Bush, picture from Wikipedia

The computer could complete the same ballistics calculations described above in about 10 seconds, but it would often take one or two days to set the computer up for a new set of problems, via plugs and switches. It was the women’s responsibility to determine the sequence of steps required to complete the calculations for each problem and set up the ENIAC. Early on, they consulted with ENIAC engineers such as Arthur Burks to determine how the ENIAC could be programmed.

The ENIAC was developed for the purpose of performing these same calculations between 1943-1946. In June 1945, Kay was selected to be one of its first programmers, along with several other women from the computer corps: Betty Snyder, Marlyn Wescoff, and Ruth Lichterman, and a fifth computer nicknamed “Greenie.” When Greenie declined to go to Aberdeen for training because she had a nice apartment in West Philadelphia and a 1st alternate refused to cut short a vacation in Missouri, Betty Jean Jennings, the 2nd alternate, got the job, and between June and August of 1945 they received training at Aberdeen Proving Grounds in the IBM punch card equipment that was to be used as the I/O for the ENIAC. Later, Kay’s college schoolmate and fellow computer Fran Bilas would join the team of ENIAC programmers at the Moore School, though she did not attend the initial training at Aberdeen.

Because the ENIAC was a classified project, the programmers were not at first allowed into the room to see the machine, but they were given access to blueprints from which to work out programs in an adjacent room.

Programming the ENIAC involved discretizing the differential equations involved in a trajectory problem to the precision allowed by the ENIAC and calculating the route to the appropriate bank of electronics in parallel progression, with each instruction having to reach the correct location in time to within 1/5,000th of a second. Having devised a program on paper, the women were allowed into the ENIAC room to physically program the machine.

Much of the programming time of the ENIAC consisted of setting up and running test programs that assured its operators of the whole system’s integrity, every vacuum tube, every electrical connection needed to be verified before running a problem.

Kay transferred to Aberdeen Proving Ground’s Ballistics Research Laboratory along with the ENIAC when it was moved there in mid-1947; she was joined by Ruth Lichterman and Fran Bilas, but the other three women began families or started other jobs, preferring to stay in Philadelphia rather than relocate to remote Aberdeen and live an Army base life.

ENIAC co-inventor John Mauchly, who had since departed his post as a professor at the Moore School to found his own computer company along with Presper Eckert, made frequent trips to Washington, D.C. during this period, and stopped in to check up on the ENIAC in Aberdeen. Mauchly had already hired Betty Jean Jennings (who had married and now went by Jean Bartik) and Betty Snyder (now called Betty Holberton) and had hoped to attract Kay to his fledgling company as well. But Mauchly’s wife had died in a September 1946 drowning accident, and as a recent widower with two children, Mauchly instead proposed to Kay, who was almost 14 years his junior.

Resigning her post at Aberdeen, and without the blessing of her Irish Catholic parents, she married him in 1948. They lived initially in his row house on St. Mark’s Street near the University of Pennsylvania, and later in a large farmhouse called Little Linden in Ambler, Pennsylvania. Together they had five children.

She later worked on the software design for later computers including the BINAC and UNIVAC I computers whose hardware was designed by her husband.

John Mauchly died in 1980 following several bouts of illness and recoveries, and she married photographer Severo Antonelli in 1985. After a long struggle with Parkinson’s disease, her second husband died in 1996; Kay had suffered a heart attack while caring for him, but made a full recovery.

Following Mauchly’s death, Kay carried on the legacy of the ENIAC pioneers by authoring articles, giving talks (frequently along with Jean Bartik, with whom she remained lifelong friends), and making herself available for interviews with reporters and researchers. She was inducted into the Women in Technology International Hall of Fame in 1997 along with the other original ENIAC programmers, and she accepted the induction of John Mauchly into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in Akron, Ohio in 2002.

Kay was diagnosed with inoperable cancer in early 2006, and died in April at the age of 85.

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The next blog post will look at the work of Jean Bartik, Betty Holberton, Marlyn Meltzer, Frances Spence and Ruth Teitelbaum on the ENIAC computer,

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All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the authors.  Although great care has been taken to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information contained in this work neither the author, contributors, employees or advisers are able to accept any legal liability for any consequential loss or damage, however caused, arising as a result of any actions taken on the basis of the information contained in this work. All third-party brands and trademarks belong to their respective owners.  Copyright : Maggie Baldry

 
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Posted by on June 12, 2011 in Soft Footsteps

 

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The first computer programmer – Augusta Ada King, Countess of Lovelace

From translating inspiration and ideas into words and images perhaps we now need to consider the communication and sharing of ideas via technological innovation. In the “Noughties” we have so many ways to communicate with each other. But we mustn’t forget that the 24/7 space that never sleeps “ http://www.” “Web” wasn’t created until 1989 (by the Englishman Sir Tim Berners-Lee and the Belgian Robert Cailliau) and it wasn’t until the early 1990s, that mobile phones became small enough to carry in your pocket,

Women have played a major historical part in providing the technological platforms that are ubiquitous in the 21st century. Their stories will be the subject of the next series of posts.

Women in computing

With the advent of the information age, concerns specific to the present and future role of women in computing have gained increasing importance. These concerns can be seen to be motivated by a general concern for gender equality on the one hand, as computers gain increasing influence in society, and as a reflection on information technology on the other, and on perceived sexism therein.”

From Wikipedia:

Notwithstanding the ‘perceived sexism’ there is no doubt that computers and communication technology have influenced history

Ada Lovelace from Wikipedia

Ada Lovelace

and will shape the future. The following pages give a brief glimpse into the stories of the women who helped to formulate the ideas behind the technology and were instrumental in providing the programmes and platforms for creating interactive media content.

Our next story is about Augusta Ada King, Countess of Lovelace, December 10, 1815 to November 27, 1852

The first computer programmer – Augusta Ada King, Countess of Lovelace (born Ada Byron – only legitimate child of the poet Lord Byron and his wife, Anne Isabella Milbanke). Ada Lovelace’s notes helped to define Charles Babbage’s analytical engine as the first computer and her corrections to the calculation of Bernoulli numbers, as the first computer programme.

The analytical engine was not a single physical machine but a succession of designs that Charles Babbage had tinkered with until his death in 1871. The Analytical Engine could be programmed using punch cards, an idea unheard of in his time. This machine was also intended to employ several features subsequently used in modern computers, including sequential control, branching, and looping

Ada Lovelace, knew and was taught by Mary Somerville a Scottish science writer and polymath. [You can read more about Mary Somerville in the Science Section of this blog]. Mary introduced Ada to Charles Babbage in June 1833. It was at this time that Ada took a great interest in Charles Babbage’s work.

Luigi Menabrea was an Italian mathematician who, in 1842, included in his memoirs a description of Charles Babbage’s analytical engine. Babbage and Menabrea had met whilst Babbage was travelling in Italy.

During a 9-month period in 1843 Ada Lovelace translated Menabrea’s description from his memoirs. However, she didn’t just translate the text, she wrote extensive additional notes and also included, among other amendments and annotations, a very important correction for using Babbage’s engine to calculate Bernoulli numbers. [Bernoulli numbers are a sequence of rational numbers with deep connections in number theory].

Total operations for computing every number in succession, from B1 to B2n-1 inclusive

This methodology was widely recognised by historians as the first computer programme and as a result of this work, Ada has been described as the first computer programmer, The modern computer programming language, Ada, was named in her honour.

The Ada Lovelace Award is named in honor of the first computer programmer, Augusta Ada Byron Lovelace, whose writings developed the idea of programming and explained the operation and theory of Charles Babbage’s Analytical Engine.

Biographers have debated the extent of her original contributions. Some state that the programmes were written by Babbage himself. Babbage commented the following on the subject, in his Passages from the Life of a Philosopher (1846).

I then suggested that she add some notes to Menabrea’s memoir, an idea which was immediately adopted. We discussed together the various illustrations that might be introduced: I suggested several but the selection was entirely her own. So also was the algebraic working out of the different problems, except, indeed, that relating to the numbers of Bernoulli, which I had offered to do to save Lady Lovelace the trouble. This she sent back to me for an amendment, having detected a grave mistake which I had made in the process.”

Lovelace’s prose also acknowledged some possibilities of the machine which Babbage never published, such as speculating that “the Engine might compose elaborate and scientific pieces of music of any degree of complexity or extent.”

Full details of Menabrea’s Sketch of the Analytical Engine, with notes upon the Memoir by the Translator ADA AUGUSTA, COUNTESS OF LOVELACE can be viewed at “Sketch of The Analytical Engine”

Invented by Charles Babbage” By L. F. MENABREA of Turin, Officer of the Military Engineers.

Notations and Variables from Note D of the notes by the Translator,

Ada Augusta, Countess of Lovelace

In 1953, over one hundred years after her death, Ada Lovelace’s forgotten translation and annotations on Babbage’s Analytical Engine were republished. The engine now has been recognized as a model for a computer and Ada Lovelace’s notes as a description of a computer and software.

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If Augusta Ada Lovelace’s notes are recognised as one of the first descriptions of a computer and software our next set of historical stories involves 6 ladies who did most of the programming of ENIAC by manipulating its switches and cables. These ladies job titles became known as ‘computers‘. The ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrator And Computer) was the first large-scale, reprogrammable, electronic, digital computer. Its first programs were related to the design of the hydrogen bomb. It is during World War II where we will meet our next historical pioneers, the original programmers of the ENIAC , Kay McNulty, Betty Jennings, Betty Snyder, Marlyn Wescoff, Fran Bilas and Ruth Lichterman.

Legal bit
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the authors. Although great care has been taken to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information contained in this work neither the author, contributors, employees or advisers are able to accept any legal liability for any consequential loss or damage, however caused, arising as a result of any actions taken on the basis of the information contained in this work. All third-party brands and trademarks belong to their respective owners. Copyright : Maggie Baldry

 
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Posted by on June 7, 2011 in Soft Footsteps

 

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