Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Ada Lovelace Day

Lady Ada was a mathematician and contemporary of Charles Babbage. She is generally recognized as writing the first algorithm for Babbage's theoretical mechanical computer called the Analytical Engine.

I knew little of this except that my favorite NY microelectronics engineer, Limor Fried, goes by the moniker "Lady Ada" and runs the successful Adafruit Industries which deals in open source kits, primarily of her design. I used a number of pieces of her handy work in the electronic controls of Dawson Station. Now I know the source of her nickname!

One of Limor's more interesting early projects was a cigarette-pack sized cell phone jammer called a "Wave Bubble".

Babbage's Analytical Engine was never built due primarily to lack of funding. Portions of it have been built and tested, and it appears it could have been finished using the technology of the time. Ironically, Limor has stated she prefers hardware design instead of software, so perhaps this Lady Ada would have helped Babbage get his computer built first before writing any software for it!

You can learn more about Ada Lovelace Day at

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