2 September 2015 to 10 July 2016
Ada Lovelace has gone down in IT history as the first ever female computer programmer. 10 December 2015 marks her 200th anniversary. The Heinz Nixdorf MuseumsForum is commemorating the occasion with a big special exhibition acknowledging the importance of Ada Lovelace and celebrating the role of women in computer history from 2 September 2015 to 10 July 2016.
Ada Lovelace was the daughter of the renowned romantic poet Lord Byron and the British aristocrat his wife Annabella Anne Isabella Milbanke. Ada showed an aptitude for mathematics and natural sciences at an early age, going on to associate with leading academics and scientists in London society.
One of these was Charles Babbage
, who had designed a new type of calculating machine. Babbage’s machine – which was never built – boasted all the major functional elements of today’s computers. It was in an article about this “Analytical Engine” that Lovelace outlined significant elements of modern-day programming languages: variables, program loops and conditional branches.
This is especially remarkable, because Ada Lovelace accomplished her scientific achievements in an age when all educational opportunities were denied to women and social barriers determined what they could and could not do.
Thus another section of the exhibition is set to present portraits of women who have made important contributions to the development of information technology. These include female staff who worked on the project to develop the ENIAC
, the world’s first electronic computer. Also Grace Hopper, who developed basic principles for advanced computer languages in the 1950s. And Nadia Magnenat-Thalmann, who has been conducting research in the field of “virtual humans” for over 30 years.