Ada Lovelace wrote the first computer program in 1843…one hundred years before a computer was actually invented. Ada Lovelace Day, on the other hand, was founded in 2009 by Suw Charman-Anderson to celebrate the achievements of this programmer and other women in STEM fields. The birth of this programmer-specific holiday rose awareness around this somewhat unknown historical figure, inspired a LEGO fundraising campaign, and, of course, started a #AdaLovelaceDay Twitter hashtag.
Rather than simply tweet about Ada Lovelace today, we decided to list other ways to celebrate the Mother of Computer Programming.
Thanks to Amazing Women of History for the license-free template drawing!
1. Build Something
Ada Lovelace wasn’t just the world’s first computer programmer. She was also one of the first people to see the potential behind the so-called “analytics machine.” She envisioned a world where computers could create anything, even music, using variable inputs other than numbers. It was a pretty big step from calculating numbers and you can bet she got some grief for it.
While there are countless ways to honor this pioneer, we think the best way is to actually build something. It could be as small as a meme (she DID predict computer-generated graphics after all) or as a large as an original program. If you’re leaning towards starting your own programming project, get inspired by browsing our available API packages.
2. Read an Ada Lovelace Comic
What if Ada Lovelace and Charles Babbage teamed up, not only to build the world’s first
computer analytics machine, but also to fight crime? Part history, part steam punk, you can learn about these programmers’ achievements while simultaneously imagining Ada Lovelace smoking a pipe.
We never knew we needed Sydney Padua’s web comic in our lives, but we did. Bonus points–she also has a Eisner-nominated graphic novel.
3. Procrastinate with Videos
We don’t actually need to convince you to take five, do we? Dedicate your regular coffee (or Reddit) break to watching a video on Ada Lovelace. Here are some of our favorites:
If you have five minutes or less:
- Ada Lovelace Byron (1:32): A narration-free and simple animated video that captures the spirit of Ada Lovelace concisely.
- Draw My Life (4:32) : A cutesy but fun narration of Ada’s life from her imagined perspective.
- Ada Lovelace Great Minds (3:32): Quick and dirty narration of Ada’s accomplishments, including the analytics machine.
If you have ten minutes:
- Great Minds with Dan Harmon and Community’s Gillian Jacobs (9:45): What if Ada Lovelace
came to the present and talked to a programmer? And Dan Harmon narrated? More fun than educational, but the fun is worth it.
- Can Maths Predict the Future? (11:17): A TED talk given by famous mathematician Hannah Fry on the potential of math on Ada Lovelace Day in 2014.
If you have twenty or more minutes:
- Rebooting the Ada Lovelace Mythos (51:25, starts at 10:30): Valerie Aurora, programmer and founder of The Ada Initiative, talks about the Lovelace’s programming accomplishments as the world’s first open-source programmer, and the need for stories around her–even if they don’t all agree.
4. Get Motivated with Some Words of Wisdom
Ada’s father was famous poet Lord Byron, so it’s not surprising that the programmer also had a way with words. Save these quotes for your next #MotivationMonday post.
5. Donate to a Cause Promoting Women in STEM
Ada Lovelace Day often brings up conversations about female representation in tech. Mashable has a great list of non-profits addressing gender diversity in tech from a number of angles. Consider making a donation to support present and future female developers.
6. Go to an Ada Lovelace Event
There are a number of events around the world celebrating Ada Lovelace today. Head over to FindingAda.com to see if there’s an event in your corner of the world.
7. Do a Twitter Audit
Ada Lovelace is often used as an example of a woman whose contributions go unnoticed due to her gender. While it’s great that we recognize her today, it’s all too easy to let that mistake happen in a field where women are underrepresented. Even some of our smartest innovators aren’t always proactive about seeking out female developer voices. A Guardian article recently came out that tech leaders don’t actually follow many women on Twitter.
One way to honor Ada Lovelace today is to check your Twitter. Are you a developer? How many of the people you follow are women? If the answer isn’t to your liking, today is the perfect day to change it. If you’re in the tech scene, Allyson Kapin, founder of Women Who Tech, compiled a list of 100 female founders and influencers worth following. If you’re a developer, check out this Twitter list of 543 women who code.
That’s our list! How are you celebrating Ada Lovelace Day? Are there any other programmer holidays that you celebrate?