Ada Lovelace and The Very First Computer Program

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We all know that Ada Lovelace is credited as the first computer programmer. But what did she write? What did it do? And how does it work? We look at the program, its function, and break it down line-by-line so you can understand the origins of our entire industry. After all, it doesn't get any more retro than this!

Original story by Steven Goodwin at Fosdem 2021. Published 2021-04-02, Originally published 2021-02-07.
This work is available under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Belgium license.

Video Copyright Steven Goodwin / Fosdem 2021. License: Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Belgium

In this talk, developer, geek, and digital archaeologist, Steven Goodwin, breaks down the very first program ever written to explain what it does and how it works. He goes on to simulate it within a JavaScript version of Babbage's analytical engine, rewriting it piece-by-piece until it looks like modern code, and thereby demonstrate what features of current languages we now all take for granted.

He finishes up with a discussion on the controversy surrounding her involvement in computing, aiming to answer the question once and for all - "Was she really the first programmer?"


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