News | 21.12.2012

A document translation at the dawn of modern day computing

What links modern computing capabilities with a piece of document translation carried out in the 1840s?

You may have heard in the past couple of weeks, of Lady Ada Lovelace, whose name has been mentioned by several media outlets since the anniversary of her birth on December 10th 1815.

While we are just three years away from celebrating her bicentenary in 2015, many of us use machines every day that might never have existed without her.

An Official Google Blog post explains the back-story to her ‘invention’ of computing, when Lady Lovelace completed a detailed document translation of an Italian work describing Charles Babbage’s idea for the construction of an ‘Analytical Engine’.

She added extensive notes of her own to the finished translation, including what Google call “the world’s first published algorithm” – instructions for how a machine could calculate the numbers of the Bernoulli sequence.

In this way, a 170-year-old example of technical translation helped create the basis of our modern-day concept of computing, from the automation of high-level services, right down to everyday tasks like emailing and tweeting friends.

Source: Google blog – Honouring computing’s 1843 visionary, Lady Ada Lovelace


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