One of the first to understand the potential of Babbage's machine and to comprehend it's operation was Ada Lovelace, the only legitimate daughter of the poet, Lord Byron. Because, as Babbage noted, Lovelace was, "far, far better at explaining" the operation of the machine than Babbage himself was, she was it's primary booster. Besides providing financial support and an almost inexhaustible amount of joie de vivre which motivated Babbage to continue working, she was also the primary coder of the Analytical Engine's punch cards.
She understood that the machine had the capacity to do most anything, limited only by the coder's imagination in what was written onto the punch cards. She once remarked, "We may say most aptly that the Analytical Engine weaves algebraical patterns just as the Jacquard-loom weaves flowers and leaves." And the device was indeed a kind of mathematical loom, inherently devoid of comprehension, but able to complete any task encoded onto its punch cards.
Due to her work in programming Babbage's device Ada was perhaps the first to develop insights into the esoteric nature of making machines "think" through programming. Many of which have been implemented in modern computers.
Copyright © 2013 Russell James
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