Candlewick Press, Pub Date 12 Mar 2019
“Dreaming in Code: Ada Byron Lovelace, Computer Pioneer” by Emily Arnold McCully is an inspiring, illuminating and illustrative biography of Ada Byron Lovelace, the world’s first computer programmer.
Ada was the only child of England’s Romantic poet, Lord George Gordon Byron and Lady Anne Isabella Noel Byron. Ada had large dancing eyes, dark curly hair and a curious, eager and exploring nature. Vivacious and versatile, she was talented at drawing, passionate about music, proficient in languages, with a mind for logic and mechanics. Ada had a mercurial yet resilient temperament, a buoyant exuberance and enthusiasm, piqued with curiosity.
As a precocious child, Ada’s memory was unusually acute. An exceptional little girl, driven by deep urges and insistent voices, her sensibility was easily worked upon. Brimful of life, spirit and animation, Ada was a most happy and cheerful child, with a disposition to enjoyment, quick to learn, and when rebuked, she bounced right back like a rubber ball.
With a strong moral conscience and a well-developed sense of what was right and wrong, Ada could not rest at night without examining her conscience. She had a most unusual upbringing, tutored by the brightest minds. Ada developed a profound aptitude “for mental puzzles, mathematical conundrums and scientific discovery, that kept pace with the breathtaking advances of the industrial and social revolutions in Europe.” Ada gradually came into her own in thought and feeling, arguing very sensibly that virtue should be its own reward.
Aged seventeen, Ada met a kindred spirit in the mathematician and inventor, Charles Babbage. Their mutual collaborations produced concepts and ideas presaging computer programming by nearly two hundred years. Ada’s boundless energy and amazing boldness inspired Charles Babbage to develop his “Analytical Engine,” an early mechanical computer. Ada explained the invention to a world that was not ready to imagine computers processing information by themselves. Ada and Babbage realized that their innovative work would only be appreciated by future generations.
Ada was born well in advance of her times. Passionately interested in mathematics and scientific inventions, Ada Byron Lovelace is now recognized as a pioneer prophet of the Information Age. The author paints a fascinating, tragic and triumphant portrait of Ada’s singular intellect and insatiable drive for knowledge, as she cleverly maneuvered through the social norms of her life and times.
“Dreaming in Code: Ada Byron Lovelace, Computer Pioneer” is attractively illustrated with portraits and drawings to make it appealing. Ada springs to life as the unusually unique person she really was. Brilliant, mercurial and ambitious, born in an era that considered women’s minds to be incapable of serious reflection, Ada had innumerable barriers to overcome and hurdles to cross. Fiercely independent, Ada possessed unique, singular qualities of genius that made her stand apart. Extremely perceptive and intuitive, Ada was a “discoverer of the hidden realities of nature, with immense reasoning faculties, driving her toward an uncharted destiny.”