With this post I’m going to lose whatever reputation I might have with all the feminist and politically correct denizens of the blogahedron. Why, because I intend to explode one of the greatest myths in the history of the computer. It is universally claimed that Ada Lady Lovelace was the world’s first programmer, the US Department of Defence even named a computer programme after her to celebrate this fact; this claim is total rubbish. Already in the 19th century Babbage’s son pointed out that the credit given to Lovelace for her memoir on his fathers Analytical engine was due to his father and not to her. Lovelace has the role of a populariser, deliberately exploited by Babbage to help him in his never ending search for financing of his computer projects. The programme that Lovelace describes for generating Bernoulli numbers was created by Babbage and not by her.
So Charles Babbage is the first programmer and not Ada Lovelace, well, actually no Babbage borrowed the concept for programming his analytical engine from today’s birthday boy the French silk weaver, Joseph Maria Jacquard, 7th July 1752. Jacquard developed the idea of using punch cards to programme the weaving patterns on his power weaving looms. If anybody should receive the credit for being the first programmer then it’s Joseph Jacquard and not Ada Lovelace.