Feb 20, 2013

The First Computer Programmer

Grace Murray Hopper
Augusta Ada Byron
According to historical accounts, Lord Byron's daughter, Augusta Ada Byron, the Countess of Lovelace, was the first person to write a computer program for Charles Babbage's (1792-1871) "analytical engine." This machine, never built, was to work by means of punched cards that could store partial answers that could later be retrieved for additional operations, and that would print results. Her work with Babbage and the essays she wrote about the possibilities of the "engine" established her as a "patron saint," if not a founding parent, of the art and science of programming. The programming language called "Ada" was named in her honor by the United States Department of Defense. In modern times the honor goes to Commodore Grace Murray Hopper (1906-1992) of the United States Navy. She wrote the first program for the Mark I computer. (The Handy Science Answer Book, compiled by the Science and Technology department of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh)