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The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage: The (Mostly) True Story of the First Computer

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  3,750 ratings  ·  817 reviews
A graphic novel debut that transforms one of the most compelling scientific collaborations into an unexpected, and hilarious, series of adventures.

A unique take on the unrealized invention of the computer in the 1830s by the eccentric polymath Charles Babbage and his accomplice, the daughter of Lord Byron, Ada, Countess of Lovelace. When Ada translated her friend Babbage's
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published April 23rd 2015 by Particular Books (first published April 21st 2015)
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Michael Norwitz I don't think it would be to the taste of an average 13 y/o, however (as Cassandra says) there is nothing inappropriate, and a teenager who is…moreI don't think it would be to the taste of an average 13 y/o, however (as Cassandra says) there is nothing inappropriate, and a teenager who is interested in ideas and history would enjoy it (I would have, at that age).(less)
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Average rating 4.04  · 
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 ·  3,750 ratings  ·  817 reviews

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Apr 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you're not familiar with Lovelace and Babbage, Sydney Padua's delight-filled webcomic, rejoice! It has now made the transition to print. You can pick up a doorstop of brilliant Victoriana-flavoured geeky humour, historically painstaking footnoting, and lovely art - and you should do so IMMEDIATELY.

Let me just acknowledge right now that I'm not even trying to be objective: Sydney's comic always hit the sweet spot of my sense of how the world ought to be. Her riff on the (factually rather
Jun 27, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The delightful artwork of this graphic enterprise (I don't think it can be called a novel) made it jump off the library shelf and into my check out pile. Unfortunately, reading this work is not near as interesting as browsing through it. It consists of musings on what would have happened if Charles Babbage and Ada Lovelace had actually built Babbage's difference engine. Almost every page has footnotes, many of the footnotes have very long endnotes, and occasionally an endnote will have a ...more

Typically I wait to review J&C books until after we have our book club meeting (if I remember to actually review them at all), but I've just this moment finished Lovelace & Babbage, and it was so utterly splendid that I had to write about it immediately.

I was pretty stoked about this one going in (I wrote an article about Ada on Atlas Obscura for Lovelace Day last year), but still I was completely blown away. This book is so charming, so monstrously intelligent, and so, so incredibly
Jun 25, 2015 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
I hope this book is as nerdy as I think it is.

Dec 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Most important thing first: Where can one acquire action figures of these versions of Lovelace and Babbage? Because I need them. My life is not whole without them. I am 100% serious about this. Someone get on it.

Now to details. This weird little book is delightful. It takes the already fascinating story about the friendship of two mathematicians developing the idea for the first computer, and then ramps it up. What would the world have been like if Babbage had actually seen this through and
This seemed like a comic perhaps more for my partner than me (and lo, she did love it), but I wanted to give it a try too after hearing some stuff about it on the radio… somewhere. And Robert kindly sent me his copy to peruse, so I had no excuse (and didn’t really want to find one anyway). I like the art — it’s cute, but not too cute; lively and character-ful, without feeling like caricature. And the sense of humour suits mine pretty well too.

If you’re looking for a serious what-if about the
Mar 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the best comics on computing and mathematics I have ever read, even if it mostly took place in a pocket universe. If mathematics can have imaginary numbers that are incredibly important for certain types of equations, then literature can definitely have imaginary histories that are incredibly important to our understanding of the world.
Ross Blocher
Jun 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage is beautifully drawn and a wellspring of geeky, Victorian fun. Sydney Padua is an animator and visual effects artist who started a comic series to work out her obsessions with Ada Lovelace (widely credited as the first computer programmer) and Charles Babbage (widely credited as the designer of the first computer). Padua assembles the little we know about these historical figures and lays it out in illustrated/annotated form: Lovelace was the ...more
Megan Hornberger
I love how self-aware this graphic novel is. It pokes fun at itself, it makes mention of technologies that the reader will know to ease them into the world of Ada and Charles, it calls servants "minions" to add just the right amount of comedic relief, but it lacks fluidity. There is an overwhelming amount of footnotes, endnotes, technical explanations, passages from letter exchanges, etc. It becomes visually distracting and often does nothing to add to the graphic portion of the novel. I think ...more
This is one of the most ridiculously well researched comics I have ever read. Given the subject matter, it's hardly surprising that both history and math play a large part in the weird and somewhat silly imaginary adventures of nineteenth century math geeks. I expected that, but the sheer depth of research information is somewhat overwhelming. And by that, I mainly mean all the mathematics, because math is absolutely impossible for me to understand. Still, I greatly respect the sheer level of ...more
If I decorated my space with GIFs, this book would get a shot from The Incredibles, where the kid on the bike goes "that... is... so... WICKED!!!"

But, be prepared for some wildness from Ms. Padua! Imagine a sweet/sad/fun thesis in history and computer science told in graphic novel format about the inventors of a factory-sized steampunk calculating machine and several famous Victorian authors and scientists.

Now stop imagining, go to the library, and read this book.
Way too many footnotes. I’ve been wanting to read this for a long time. The premise is really cool but unfortunately for me, it didn’t really deliver.
Aug 31, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jimmy by: Oriana
A graphic geek-out full of historical nuggets and arcana. You'll be lost in these pages for months (at least I was) reading footnotes, not remembering or even caring what they're footnotes of, learning tidbits of useless knowledge, giggling at obscure nerd jokes or visual puns. But in the process you'll also get to know Babbage, Ada, and Sydney, three personalities that really shine through here. Through the eyes of Sydney Padua, we get to know these historical figures not simply from their ...more
Kaethe Douglas
So, on the one hand you have accurate historical background on Babbage and Lovelace and the work they did together.

And then there are the fantastical steampunk adventures they might have had if only they'd gotten around to making the first computer. The adventures are as heavily footnoted as the real history, so one can learn a great deal about the historical figures, the process of digging through history for evidence, and more. Great fun for all ages, although the really young would need an
Apr 08, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: graphic-novels
Not entirely how I expected it to be but it was still enjoyable. I loved the non fiction part more than the Pocket Universe. But you guys! The art in this book!! It's way too wonderful. Her characters are beautiful and adorable.
Alfred Haplo
When imagination meets reality, thrilling adventures happen. Two brilliant minds, with personalities larger than life and 24 years of age apart, met one fateful day on June 5th, 1833. The rest, as they say, is history. (And copiously footnoted) *.


Ada Lovelace and Charles Babbage were way ahead of their times in Victorian London. He was a wealthy inventor and the Cambridge Lucasian Professor of Mathematics, hailed in modern era as “father of the computer” having invented the pre-pre-pre
Feb 19, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Katie by: Brian Vacek
This is one of the most charming things I've ever come across: a sweet, fun graphic novel that explores the lives of Charles Babbage and Ada Lovelace, often credited with being the creators of the first proto-computer in the 1840s. Sydney Padua skirts around the fact that both of their stories had relatively sad endings - Ada died young, Charles old and bitter - by spinning them off into their own pocket universe, where their Analytical Engine was actually built and used by the pair to go on ...more
High Plains Library District
Allow me to take a moment to review a book that could be considered a bit strange to a general audience. Let me see if I can describe what kind of book it is.

It’s a graphic novel based on historical people and events. Kind of. Charles Babbage, an inventor, and Ada Lovelace, a mathematician (and the daughter of poet Lord Byron), are widely credited with the idea for the first computer. They called it the Analytical Engine and it was never built, but the early ideas of computer science are there.
Jun 07, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage: The (Mostly) True Story of the First Computer by Sydney Padua is an irreverent and quirky view of what could have been the most outstanding scientific collaboration that didn't happen. Padua tells her tale in a graphic comic format with artwork reminiscent of early turn of the century (the 1900s) political cartoons. Its fun! Its awesome! Its over indulgent cheesecake for the geek universe!

Charles Babbage is Victorian London's unrecognized
May 10, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: comedy, sf, naffic-grovel
What a fabulous book!

A mixture of comic strip silliness, delightful anecdote and thorough research (aided by the spiritual successors to Babbage's never realised Analytical Engine) that provides the perfect introduction to the designer of the world's first computer and the author of the world's first computer science article!

This dynamic duo have to face: visits from Royalty! Funding problems! Infestations of monkeys! And more! Meet such supporting characters as Isambard Kingdom Brunel, Marian
Nov 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Originally published at Reading Reality

I finished this last night and it is great fun! I’m not totally sure what it is, but I had a terrific time reading it.

When I say that I don’t know what it is, I’m referring to the ratio between fact and fiction. It certainly is a graphic novel, but with surprising points as both graphic and novel. Although it certainly feels novel, I’m not totally certain that it IS a novel, if you catch my drift.

And if you like the kind of book where authors include lots
Vishal Katariya
I loved the concept! This is a fun and rollicking thing to read. The footnotes quite literally have a life of their own, and IMO are the best part of the book. Part research thesis, part flight of fancy -- say no more, you have me hooked. I feel like a significant amount more could've been done with the plot, but it's easy for me to say that. The way the characters were brought out, the satire of almost everyone involved, it's so fun and laugh-inducing. Reading books like this reminds me why I ...more
Delightful, thoroughly researched, and discombobulated. Sidney Padua lovingly draws Ada Lovelace and Charles Babbage's friendship, the (theoretical) invention of the first computer by Babbage, and the first computer program by Lovelace. Both were peculiar and memorable characters, whose friendship ranged from mathematical discourse to special fondness asnd squabbles. As Lovelace died young, which would make for a short book, Padua opts to keep her and their cooperation alive in a "Pocket ...more
Tagwa Warrag
Jul 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An autobigraphical comics about the history of computers in a way that exceeded my expectations. i love love love Ada Lovelace and reading about her work makes me appreciate more how people like her and Babbage paved the way for what we have today in technology. It makes me want to read more about people as Alan Turning, Grace Hopper, Margaret Hamilton, and many mooooore.

Then I remembered how in high school we were taught about the earliest generations of mechanical calculaters and how they
This is not your average graphic novel. In fact, it is more akin to a highly humorous and well illustrated text book. If you love history, mathematics, coding/computing/etc, then this is right up your alley. Go grab it right now! Others may find it very interesting as well, but may feel overwhelmed by all the footnotes/end notes/annotations/references. You could easily just flick through and enjoy the art, but I recommend slowing down and taking the time to read. It was fascinating and I was ...more
Afro Madonna
2.5 stars maybe ? But that's just me . Actually surprised i finished reading this . Read the comics , just didn't read all the endnotes (quite tedious ). You can tell Sydney Padua did put in a lot of work because it is very well researched and the artwork is pretty awesome too but it just wasn't for me . Wasn't totally bad . I think I'll bump it up to 3 stars because the book deserves it .
Steven Brown
Aug 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A superb example of what a free ranging and creative graphic novel can be. Imagine a mashup between computing, Victorian engineering, and "The Avengers" (Steed and Peel, not that comics stuff.) Very educational and enormous fun. Highly recommended. Hope for more Victoriana and science history from Padua.
Ana María
Oct 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant! Highly recommended to anyeveryone. Padua takes a footnote in history and creates a Pocket Universe of lovely possibility (full of historical footnotes of her own). Thanks to Minkowski space-time, there are even more adventures (and hilarity) to be had.
Jul 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Such a cool concept! Got this from the library, but will get my own copy for sure. Learned so much about the history of mathematics and computers.
Katie Lumsden
A quick read, historically interesting and very good fun. I'm still not sure that comics / graphic novels are really the form for me, but this was certainly an enjoyable one.
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Sydney Padua is an animator, story artist, and tiresome bore working mostly in visual effects in London. She started drawing comics by accident and is still trying to figure out how to stop. The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage is a monstrous perversion of nature, viewable by horrified bystanders at
“On the far left is Jane Austen, who of course died in 1817 in our inferior universe. In the pocket universe, she lives to ninety-five and writes dozens of bestselling masterpieces and makes a mint and lives happily ever after.” 5 likes
“The first woman known to have worked as a computer in England was Mary Edwards, who calculated astronomical positions for the Board of Longitude in the 1770s.” 0 likes
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