Retro Computing News

Competition for teenage girls to mark Ada’s 200th birthday

Watercolor portrait of Ada King, Countess of Lovelace (Ada Lovelace), 1840

Coming soon – Teenage girls with an interest in computing and technology are being invited to enter a competition to mark the 200th anniversary of the birth of Ada Lovelace.

The competition, run by The National Museum of Computing and the University of Oxford in conjunction with Cs4fn at Queen Mary University, London, asks girls what 21st century technology they would like to tell Ada Lovelace about.

Augusta Ada King, Countess of Lovelace (1815-1852), was the English daughter of a brief marriage between the Romantic poet Lord Byron and Anne Isabelle Milbanke, who separated from Byron just a month after Ada was born. Four months later, Byron left England forever. Ada never met her father (who died in Greece in 1823) and was raised by her mother, Lady Byron.

Trial model of a part of the Analytical Engine, built by Babbage, as displayed at the London Science Museum (pic Bruno Barral/Wikipedia)

Ada was a brilliant mathematician and writer, chiefly known for her work on mathematician Charles Babbage’s early mechanical general-purpose computer, the Analytical Engine.  Ada met Babbage in 1833, when she was just 17, and they began an extensive correspondence on the topics of mathematics, logic, and ultimately all subjects, including his designs for the Engine. They became lifelong friends.

Her notes on the Analytical Engine include what is recognised as the first algorithm intended to be carried out by a machine. Because of this, she is often regarded as the first computer programmer.  The computer programming language, Ada, was named in her honour in 1979.

Full details of the competition will be announced at the beginning of July.

Potential entrants and others wishing to receive details, should please email: with Ada in the subject line.