We of a certain age do remember Paul Harvey, whose stories always had a punch line such as the telling of “Wally,” who had chaffed for years whenever he recalled being laughed at when he had rowed across the lake to get the ice cream for a church gathering and when he had returned realized it had melted. If only he had been able to row faster. Then Paul Harvey would go to Page 2 and tell us that this memory resulted in a benefit to all, his full name was Wally Evenrude.
It is curious how what some might say trivia is to many facts in search of connecting dots to other facts and this is a perfect example. Among the greatest of figures in English literature, one will find the name of Lord Byron (George Gordon). No surprise to those who know of his personal life, his brief marriage to Annabella Milbanke was a disaster although their union did result in one child, Ada Lovelace. Over the years, Ada was denied any contact with her father and her teachers were instructed that her education must consist of mathematics and science never to include literature or poetry.
As she matured, being denied the usual social niceties, she did find the company of admirers experienced in intellectual pursuits. One of these was the mathematician Charles Babbage, who had for years labored on what he call his “difference engine” a theoretical calculator. Ada began to transcribe his notes, supplemented with ideas of others. Small wonder that the “machine” remained a theory as it was considered to result in an 8-foot-tall unit, 25 tons in weight and containing no less than 25,000 parts.
Long after the deaths of Ada Lovelace and Charles Babbage the advance of scientific research allowed, using the notes of Ada, the construction of the “difference machine” now called the “computer.”
And now, it’s time for Page 2. The next time you have a Microsoft product, take a closer look at the holograph seal and the picture image, it is that of your benefactress whose efforts made it possible, that of Augusta Ada Byron, Countess of Lovelace.
Jack D. Ballard