BookshelfJacob deGroot-Maggetti

Ada’s Algorithm: How Lord Byron’s Daughter Ada Lovelace Launched the Digital Age – James Essinger

Thoughts: I finished this book feeling somewhat disappointed. Guided, perhaps, by the title, I expected an explanation of the first computer program in history that Ada Lovelace was purported to have written in 1843 for Charles Babbage’s Analytical Engine. Instead, the book was a biography of Lovelace, and when the titular algorithm finally came up in the last third of the book, Essinger offered only a general description of it, doing little to explain how it worked. The book featured many, unnecessarily lengthy quotations from Lovelace’s correspondence with Babbage and others. And for all his discussion of how Lovelace’s work was discounted by Victorian society because she was a woman, I found Essinger’s convention of referring to male figures by their last name and female figures by their first rather grating.

(The notes below are not a summary of the book, but rather raw notes - whatever I thought, at the time, might be worth remembering.)

Essinger, James. 2014. Ada’s Algorithm: How Lord Byron’s Daughter Ada Lovelace Launched the Digital Age. Melville House.

Posted: Mar 26, 2021. Last updated: Mar 29, 2021.