Yesterday evening the BBC4 television channel showed a documentary film about Ada Lovelace called Calculating Ada: The Countess of Computing. I haven’t seen this, so I can’t comment on it and this is not what this post is about. In the run up to the programme Andrew Cohen, Head of the BBC Science Unit, tweeted the following tweet advertising the programme.
Thank this woman for your smart phone. WTF! From all the inane comments that I have read over the years about the Countess of Lovelace, I think this one wins the prize for the biggest heap of festering bovine manure that anybody has, to my knowledge, ever uttered about her.
Whatever has been said about who was responsible for the notes appended to her English translation of the Menebrea memoire on the Analytical Engine, she or Babbage (and I still personally think that all of the available evidence points to Babbage as being their principle author) there is one thing about which all historians of computing agree one hundred per cent: Neither Babbage nor Lovelace nor Babbage’s machines had any influence whatsoever on the invention and development of the modern computer in the second half of the twentieth century and thus on your smart phone. In fact most of the pioneers who created the modern computer and thus ushered in the computer age had never even heard of either Babbage or Lovelace.
I’m sorry to have to say this, but Mr Cohen your statement is pure unadulterated crap and not something I would expect from someone who glorifies under the title Head of the BBC Science Unit.