March 24th, 2010
|Fragment of Charles Babbage’s first difference engine, from the collection of the Harvard University Collection of Historical Scientific Instruments.|
In honor of Ada Lovelace Day, here is a fragment of Charles Babbage’s difference engine, from the Collection of Historical Instruments at Harvard University. Babbage went on to design a programmable computer, the Analytical Engine, though it was never built. However, Augustus , in her 1843 translation, annotation, and augmentation of a French description of the machine, provided an algorithm for computing the Bernoulli numbers, which is arguably the first algorithm designed for computer implementation. She is consequently considered the world’s first computer programmer.
UPDATE (May 2, 2010): Bruce Beresford will apparently be directing a movie about Ada Lovelace entitled “The Enchantress of Numbers”, starring Billy Crudup as Charles Babbage and perhaps Zooey Deschanel (or not) as the Countess herself. A way cooler computer science film, honestly, than a movie about Facebook.