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Ada, the Enchantress of Numbers: A Selection from the Letters of Lord Byron's Daughter and Her Description of the First Computer

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A revision of the life and work of Ada Lovelace, which contains nearly 400 letters. She was Lord Byron's daughter and acted as interpretress for Charles Babbage, the computer pioneer. She was one of the first people to write programmes of instruction for Babbage's analytical engines. A revision of the life and work of Ada Lovelace, which contains nearly 400 letters. She was Lord Byron's daughter and acted as interpretress for Charles Babbage, the computer pioneer. She was one of the first people to write programmes of instruction for Babbage's analytical engines.


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A revision of the life and work of Ada Lovelace, which contains nearly 400 letters. She was Lord Byron's daughter and acted as interpretress for Charles Babbage, the computer pioneer. She was one of the first people to write programmes of instruction for Babbage's analytical engines. A revision of the life and work of Ada Lovelace, which contains nearly 400 letters. She was Lord Byron's daughter and acted as interpretress for Charles Babbage, the computer pioneer. She was one of the first people to write programmes of instruction for Babbage's analytical engines.

30 review for Ada, the Enchantress of Numbers: A Selection from the Letters of Lord Byron's Daughter and Her Description of the First Computer

  1. 5 out of 5

    Bettie

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b06bglnh Description: In part two of this dramatization of The Letters of Ada Lovelace, Georgina Ferry reveals the nature of the relationship between the young heiress, Ada Lovelace (Sally Hawkins) and the crusty mathematician, Charles Babbage (Anthony Head), inventor of steam-powered calculating machines. Despite, (or perhaps because of), constant battles with her mental and physical health, Ada pursued her interest in Babbage's innovative engines, with zeal. She t http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b06bglnh Description: In part two of this dramatization of The Letters of Ada Lovelace, Georgina Ferry reveals the nature of the relationship between the young heiress, Ada Lovelace (Sally Hawkins) and the crusty mathematician, Charles Babbage (Anthony Head), inventor of steam-powered calculating machines. Despite, (or perhaps because of), constant battles with her mental and physical health, Ada pursued her interest in Babbage's innovative engines, with zeal. She threw herself into the task of describing his Analytical Engine and writing the Notes of the engine for which she is now famous. In an extraordinary leap of imagination, she suggested that this steam-powered engine could be used for much more than just adding and subtracting - 'for music and art perhaps'. And grasped just how many problems - and not only mathematical ones - might one day be solved by rigorous, logical analysis. All her life Ada struggled to escape her controlling mother, Lady Byron (Olivia Williams) and the legacy of her notorious and absent father, the romantic poet Lord Byron. Babbage gave her the attention and intellectual respect that neither of her parents offered. She defied convention and produced a work of astonishing prescience, predicting how steam-powered calculating machines might one day change the world. She was a flawed and fragile individual: a Victorian tech visionary.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Megan

    Although the author does a good job of putting in some narration before each set of letters, it was really hard for me to get used to the fact that she only provided letters Ada wrote, and none of the reply mail. It was like listening to one side of a telephone conversation...somewhat frustrating as I kept anticipating a reply to come right after each letter! Of course, I understand why the replies are not included as the book is already quite long. I was also very intrigued by Ada's "Mathematic Although the author does a good job of putting in some narration before each set of letters, it was really hard for me to get used to the fact that she only provided letters Ada wrote, and none of the reply mail. It was like listening to one side of a telephone conversation...somewhat frustrating as I kept anticipating a reply to come right after each letter! Of course, I understand why the replies are not included as the book is already quite long. I was also very intrigued by Ada's "Mathematical scrapbook" - it's such a shame that it was not preserved. It would have been great to see such a detailed insight into her thought processes. In general I would have liked to have seen more focus on the notes she did for Babbage's Analytical Machine and maybe less about her mundane day-to-day expenses, visitors, etc...although I suppose that was part of her life as well. Overall a great compilation and commentary on such an extraordinary lady.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Heather Diane Grey

    If Ms. Lovelace had been as proficient in her technical work as she was in her ability to boast, I'm sure she would have been 50 years ahead of her time. She was a relentless egotist and insufferable bore, whose dubious claim to history was secured by her ride on the coattails of an actual scientist. If Ms. Lovelace had been as proficient in her technical work as she was in her ability to boast, I'm sure she would have been 50 years ahead of her time. She was a relentless egotist and insufferable bore, whose dubious claim to history was secured by her ride on the coattails of an actual scientist.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    From BBC Radio 4: Georgina Ferry presents part one of the correspondence of Ada Lovelace, dramatised by an all-star cast; and reveals the intense inner world of a young Victorian lady who anticipated our digital age. Ada Lovelace (Sally Hawkins) was the abandoned daughter of the romantic poet Lord Byron. Concerned that Ada might inherit her father's feckless and 'dangerous' poetic tendencies, her single mother Lady Byron (Olivia Williams) made sure she was tutored thoroughly in mathematics, and re From BBC Radio 4: Georgina Ferry presents part one of the correspondence of Ada Lovelace, dramatised by an all-star cast; and reveals the intense inner world of a young Victorian lady who anticipated our digital age. Ada Lovelace (Sally Hawkins) was the abandoned daughter of the romantic poet Lord Byron. Concerned that Ada might inherit her father's feckless and 'dangerous' poetic tendencies, her single mother Lady Byron (Olivia Williams) made sure she was tutored thoroughly in mathematics, and regularly prescribed 'more maths' to improve her mental health. When she came out in London society, Ada met the man who would change her life, but not in the way most debutantes would have imagined. The distinguished mathematician, Charles Babbage (Anthony Head) became her life-long friend and mentor: Ada was fascinated by his steam-powered calculating machines. Supported by her husband William (George Watkins), she defied society's expectations, studying mathematics with extraordinary passion and determination when she was married with three small children; and later suggesting boldly to Babbage that he might like to work with her on his innovative thinking machines. Episode 2: Thinking Machines In part two of this dramatization of The Letters of Ada Lovelace, Georgina Ferry reveals the nature of the relationship between the young heiress, Ada Lovelace (Sally Hawkins) and the crusty mathematician, Charles Babbage (Anthony Head), inventor of steam-powered calculating machines. Despite, (or perhaps because of), constant battles with her mental and physical health, Ada pursued her interest in Babbage's innovative engines, with zeal. She threw herself into the task of describing his Analytical Engine and writing the Notes of the engine for which she is now famous. In an extraordinary leap of imagination, she suggested that this steam-powered engine could be used for much more than just adding and subtracting - 'for music and art perhaps'. And grasped just how many problems - and not only mathematical ones - might one day be solved by rigorous, logical analysis. All her life Ada struggled to escape her controlling mother, Lady Byron (Olivia Williams) and the legacy of her notorious and absent father, the romantic poet Lord Byron. Babbage gave her the attention and intellectual respect that neither of her parents offered. She defied convention and produced a work of astonishing prescience, predicting how steam-powered calculating machines might one day change the world. She was a flawed and fragile individual: a Victorian tech visionary. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b069jjmg

  5. 4 out of 5

    So Hakim

    Mixed bag of result. On one hand we have the letters of "the (often said as) first lady programmer in the world". Which is illuminating, even if dimly. about her time and place in Victorian England. On the other hand the collection wasn't neatly curated. I often found myself unsure what prompted certain letters, or why she is feeling good/bad/happy/sad/etc. Perhaps a little bit more context could help readers not familiar with the topic. I myself read this after a biography of Babbage, and fairly Mixed bag of result. On one hand we have the letters of "the (often said as) first lady programmer in the world". Which is illuminating, even if dimly. about her time and place in Victorian England. On the other hand the collection wasn't neatly curated. I often found myself unsure what prompted certain letters, or why she is feeling good/bad/happy/sad/etc. Perhaps a little bit more context could help readers not familiar with the topic. I myself read this after a biography of Babbage, and fairly acquainted with history of computing, so I had little bit of help. It's good to read direct sources once in a while -- unfortunately there are too many holes to make it satisfying.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Valerie

    I'm pretty sure this is the book I read. It discusses Ada Lovelace's programs for Babbage's Difference Engines and Analytical Engines. Although there were earlier calculating ang computing machines (such as the Jacquard loom), these were the first really programmable computers (the Jacquard loom used a punched-card system), and Ada Lovelace's programs were essentially the origin of the practice and theory of computer programming. I'm pretty sure this is the book I read. It discusses Ada Lovelace's programs for Babbage's Difference Engines and Analytical Engines. Although there were earlier calculating ang computing machines (such as the Jacquard loom), these were the first really programmable computers (the Jacquard loom used a punched-card system), and Ada Lovelace's programs were essentially the origin of the practice and theory of computer programming.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Kim

    Disappointing. The author seems determined to portray a certain image of Ada throughout, often by deriding her mother and adulating Lord Byron to the point of discrediting without proof most aspects of Byron's unbalanced, selfish behavior. Even though this is supposed to be a book about Ada! I've read many books about the Byrons so this highly slanted read on the family was obvious and kind of insulting to readers. The one-sided aspect of only citing letters from Ada, with no responses from anyon Disappointing. The author seems determined to portray a certain image of Ada throughout, often by deriding her mother and adulating Lord Byron to the point of discrediting without proof most aspects of Byron's unbalanced, selfish behavior. Even though this is supposed to be a book about Ada! I've read many books about the Byrons so this highly slanted read on the family was obvious and kind of insulting to readers. The one-sided aspect of only citing letters from Ada, with no responses from anyone, is annoying and self-serving as other reviews have noted. Many letters portray a woman who is completely obsessed with the idea of her own genius (at times to the point of seeming delusional). But the author seems to include them as proof Ada's genius, making me doubt the author's ability to maintain an objective point of view. The best parts involved Ada's writing of Babbage's notes and her thoughts on what she read or observed in the mathematical or scientific worlds, where she seemed prescient about many topics, not just the possibility of computers. Every reference to the U.S. Department of Defense's ADA programming language could have been removed. It felt like an ad for ADA at times and did not underscore the importance of Ada's insight anymore than general references to modern computing would have.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Cait Califa

    There are parts of this I really like. I like reading Ada’s letters to her fellow mathematicians. And I like reading excerpts of her notes to Babbage’s work. These are the best parts of this book which focuses a bit too much on despairing of Lady Byron, and Lord Byron. It uses Ada’s letter speaking of her own “genius” and desire to be a genius as for why she is a genius and not enough on what actually made her a genius. Which wasn’t necessarily her mathematical skills but rather her technologica There are parts of this I really like. I like reading Ada’s letters to her fellow mathematicians. And I like reading excerpts of her notes to Babbage’s work. These are the best parts of this book which focuses a bit too much on despairing of Lady Byron, and Lord Byron. It uses Ada’s letter speaking of her own “genius” and desire to be a genius as for why she is a genius and not enough on what actually made her a genius. Which wasn’t necessarily her mathematical skills but rather her technological comprehension skills. I feel like the author should have focused more on what Ada was bringing to science, what made her really interesting, was her imagination and her capability of understanding babbage’s technology to the point where she saw the potential of his work that he could not even fathom.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Muffin Pam

    Wow. This was a boring book. It was literally a "Selection of Letters," like, hundreds of them. Some that are interesting, most that are not, a few that make no sense, and all that are rambling. I guess I should have paid more attention to the title of the book. I wanted a biography of Ada Lovelace and this was the first available book at the library. Ada appears to be an enigma - to me she still kind of is since letters do not tell the whole story like an actual story of someone's life does. Th Wow. This was a boring book. It was literally a "Selection of Letters," like, hundreds of them. Some that are interesting, most that are not, a few that make no sense, and all that are rambling. I guess I should have paid more attention to the title of the book. I wanted a biography of Ada Lovelace and this was the first available book at the library. Ada appears to be an enigma - to me she still kind of is since letters do not tell the whole story like an actual story of someone's life does. The author is either lazy or tenacious - depending on how hard it was to get these letters and put them in some kind of order when half of them make no sense. Needless to say - this gal is getting another biography to read of the lovely, yet ineloquent Lady Lovelace.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Ryan

    There is interesting commentary by Dr. Toole about Lovelace's thoughts and feelings, and she provides some context to the letters. The author clearly adores her subject, but I wonder if letting Lovelace speak for herself a bit more might have been the better tactic here. There is interesting commentary by Dr. Toole about Lovelace's thoughts and feelings, and she provides some context to the letters. The author clearly adores her subject, but I wonder if letting Lovelace speak for herself a bit more might have been the better tactic here.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Tom Baikin-O'hayon

    nice biography, I think it was a bit lacking in technical information, but I'm not sure if I could understand it nice biography, I think it was a bit lacking in technical information, but I'm not sure if I could understand it

  12. 5 out of 5

    Julie

    Reading for a project at work. Biography of Ada Lovelace, primarily told through her letters to Charles Babbage and others.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Lise

    An interesting but rather unsatisfying biography of Ada Lovelace. It is convincing in that it establishes very credibly that she did, in fact, write the notes on Babbage's Analytical Engine (the amount of pain involved in the editing and printing make it pretty clear that this was no 'lend your name' sort of thing), but other than that it's all dribs and drabs. Most of the letters are fragments, although some of that is because only partial letters remain, it's pretty clear that much of it is ed An interesting but rather unsatisfying biography of Ada Lovelace. It is convincing in that it establishes very credibly that she did, in fact, write the notes on Babbage's Analytical Engine (the amount of pain involved in the editing and printing make it pretty clear that this was no 'lend your name' sort of thing), but other than that it's all dribs and drabs. Most of the letters are fragments, although some of that is because only partial letters remain, it's pretty clear that much of it is editorial choice. It's very hard to get a handle on someone when you only have their half of multiple correspondences... Honestly, I would have liked it better if it included the notes themselves.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Tzippy

    This book is a mix of biography and a collection of letters written by Ada Lovelace over the course of her life. As it turns out, I really don't enjoy reading other people's correspondence. You only get the letters she wrote, not the ones written to her, which means that at least a third of the content of this book suffered from lack of context. I liked the biography parts of the book much better, but as a biography, this book is pretty lacking. From a historical point of view (not that I know mu This book is a mix of biography and a collection of letters written by Ada Lovelace over the course of her life. As it turns out, I really don't enjoy reading other people's correspondence. You only get the letters she wrote, not the ones written to her, which means that at least a third of the content of this book suffered from lack of context. I liked the biography parts of the book much better, but as a biography, this book is pretty lacking. From a historical point of view (not that I know much about 19th-century English history), it was kind of cool to see some cameos from some of Ada's famous contemporaries, like Charles Dickens and the Duke of Wellington.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Sandi

    I got a copy of this book about 10 years ago at a booksellers convention that a friend got me into. It looks like I started to read it, but didn't finish. I'm going to have to finish it someday. Ada was the only legitimate child of Lord Byron and a brilliant woman. She worked with Charles Babbage on his Difference Engine and there is a computer language used by the Department of Defense named after her. She was definitely ahead of her time. I got a copy of this book about 10 years ago at a booksellers convention that a friend got me into. It looks like I started to read it, but didn't finish. I'm going to have to finish it someday. Ada was the only legitimate child of Lord Byron and a brilliant woman. She worked with Charles Babbage on his Difference Engine and there is a computer language used by the Department of Defense named after her. She was definitely ahead of her time.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Linda Barr

    Much if the book consists of letters Ada Lovelace wrote, and that gives a good picture of what she was like. The narrative is interesting but leaves a lot of questions. Still, this is an interesting look at a woman who was clearly 100 years ahead of her time. She foresaw the modern computer at a time when women weren't even supposed to be interested in math or science. Much if the book consists of letters Ada Lovelace wrote, and that gives a good picture of what she was like. The narrative is interesting but leaves a lot of questions. Still, this is an interesting look at a woman who was clearly 100 years ahead of her time. She foresaw the modern computer at a time when women weren't even supposed to be interested in math or science.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    The letters from Ada to Charles Babbage were by far the most interesting. I could have done without the bizarre banter between Ada and her husband, and her and her mother. Referring to each other as different bird names? I guess epistolary protocol has changed quite a bit since then, and it seems mostly for the better.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Chris Ingram

    Source material referred to in Gleick's 'The Information' - pretty much what it says, the annotated correspondence of Ada Lovelace, daughter of Lord Byron and confidante of Charles Babbage. Source material referred to in Gleick's 'The Information' - pretty much what it says, the annotated correspondence of Ada Lovelace, daughter of Lord Byron and confidante of Charles Babbage.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Neil Aitken

  20. 5 out of 5

    MysticMoods

  21. 4 out of 5

    Ash

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jena

  23. 5 out of 5

    Kristel

  24. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie Marie

  25. 4 out of 5

    Anthony Rose

  26. 4 out of 5

    Kitty

  27. 4 out of 5

    Abdulla

  28. 5 out of 5

    Aicha

  29. 4 out of 5

    Peggy-Dorothea Smith

  30. 4 out of 5

    Jodi

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