Celebrating Lady Ada Lovelace Day!

Through my travels in the Net today, I found out that March 24 is the day for celebrating and blogging about my heroine Lady Ada Lovelace!

It was quite a surprise for me to find out after more than 30 years in the Information Technology (IT) field that there was a day dedicated to honouring her memory by writing something about her and other notable women in technology. So, here I am rushing to write something before the end of the day. I cannot let the occasion pass me by.

For some people in IT, she is well known, as she is the reason the US Department of Defense named a programming language Ada. She is also well known for people interested in programming in general, as she is generally considered the first programmer ever, even though she died before digital computers, as we know them, were invented. However, she did write was is considered the first computer programme as she wrote an algorithm for the analytical engine that Charles Babbage invented.

Since today is a day to celebrate other women in technology, I consider it a "must" to remember and celebrate anoter woman who made a great contribution to the IT field: Rear Admiral Grace Murray Hopper. She is another of my heroines as she is recognized as the author of a programming language that was the bread and butter of computer systems during the 1970's and 1980's. (As a matter of fact, there are still a good number of "legacy" systems written in it). I'm talking, of course, of COBOL, one of the first languages I learned in University, which is still in operations and is one of the oldest programming languages still used worldwide. Grace Hopper created the specification for COBOL in 1959 and it really was the workhorse language for most of the companies and governments that were developing application systems. Another interesting trivia fact about her is that she is the person who first used the term "bug" and "debugging" in programming. The funny part is that it was actually an insect she found that was causing problems with the system and the rest is history...

[As an aside, it made me very happy to learn today as well that the US Navy has named a destroyer in her honour, the USS Hopper (DDG-70). This is only the second US Navy warship to be named for a woman. The USS Hopper was launched on Jan. 6, 1996, by her sister.]

So, how come women have been so prominent in the field of programming languages? My guess is that the natural tendency that women have to excel at languages must have helped. And of course, it doesn't hurt that many women, and certainly women such as Lady Ada and Rear Admiral Grace Hopper must have had beautiful, logical minds.

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