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Ada, the Enchantress of Numbers: A Selection from the Letters of Lord Byron's Daughter and Her Description of the First Computer

3.33  ·  Rating details ·  107 ratings  ·  18 reviews
A revision of the life and work of Ada Lovelace, which contains nearly 400 letters. She was Lord Byron's daughter and acted as interpretress for Charles Babbage, the computer pioneer. She was one of the first people to write programmes of instruction for Babbage's analytical engines. ...more
Hardcover, 439 pages
Published January 8th 1992 by Critical Connection
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Sep 14, 2015 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: BBC Radio Listeners
Recommended to Bettie by: Laura

Description: In part two of this dramatization of The Letters of Ada Lovelace, Georgina Ferry reveals the nature of the relationship between the young heiress, Ada Lovelace (Sally Hawkins) and the crusty mathematician, Charles Babbage (Anthony Head), inventor of steam-powered calculating machines.

Despite, (or perhaps because of), constant battles with her mental and physical health, Ada pursued her interest in Babbage's innovative engines, with zeal. She t
Mar 29, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, stem
Although the author does a good job of putting in some narration before each set of letters, it was really hard for me to get used to the fact that she only provided letters Ada wrote, and none of the reply mail. It was like listening to one side of a telephone conversation...somewhat frustrating as I kept anticipating a reply to come right after each letter! Of course, I understand why the replies are not included as the book is already quite long. I was also very intrigued by Ada's "Mathematic ...more
Heather Diane Grey
Sep 05, 2014 rated it did not like it
If Ms. Lovelace had been as proficient in her technical work as she was in her ability to boast, I'm sure she would have been 50 years ahead of her time.

She was a relentless egotist and insufferable bore, whose dubious claim to history was secured by her ride on the coattails of an actual scientist.
From BBC Radio 4:
Georgina Ferry presents part one of the correspondence of Ada Lovelace, dramatised by an all-star cast; and reveals the intense inner world of a young Victorian lady who anticipated our digital age.

Ada Lovelace (Sally Hawkins) was the abandoned daughter of the romantic poet Lord Byron. Concerned that Ada might inherit her father's feckless and 'dangerous' poetic tendencies, her single mother Lady Byron (Olivia Williams) made sure she was tutored thoroughly in mathematics, and re
So Hakim
Mixed bag of result. On one hand we have the letters of "the (often said as) first lady programmer in the world". Which is illuminating, even if dimly. about her time and place in Victorian England.

On the other hand the collection wasn't neatly curated. I often found myself unsure what prompted certain letters, or why she is feeling good/bad/happy/sad/etc. Perhaps a little bit more context could help readers not familiar with the topic.

I myself read this after a biography of Babbage, and fairly
I'm pretty sure this is the book I read. It discusses Ada Lovelace's programs for Babbage's Difference Engines and Analytical Engines. Although there were earlier calculating ang computing machines (such as the Jacquard loom), these were the first really programmable computers (the Jacquard loom used a punched-card system), and Ada Lovelace's programs were essentially the origin of the practice and theory of computer programming. ...more
Oct 08, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Disappointing. The author seems determined to portray a certain image of Ada throughout, often by deriding her mother and adulating Lord Byron to the point of discrediting without proof most aspects of Byron's unbalanced, selfish behavior. Even though this is supposed to be a book about Ada! I've read many books about the Byrons so this highly slanted read on the family was obvious and kind of insulting to readers.

The one-sided aspect of only citing letters from Ada, with no responses from anyon
Cait Califa
Mar 26, 2020 rated it liked it
There are parts of this I really like. I like reading Ada’s letters to her fellow mathematicians. And I like reading excerpts of her notes to Babbage’s work. These are the best parts of this book which focuses a bit too much on despairing of Lady Byron, and Lord Byron.

It uses Ada’s letter speaking of her own “genius” and desire to be a genius as for why she is a genius and not enough on what actually made her a genius. Which wasn’t necessarily her mathematical skills but rather her technologica
Muffin Pam
Apr 25, 2019 rated it did not like it
Wow. This was a boring book. It was literally a "Selection of Letters," like, hundreds of them. Some that are interesting, most that are not, a few that make no sense, and all that are rambling. I guess I should have paid more attention to the title of the book. I wanted a biography of Ada Lovelace and this was the first available book at the library. Ada appears to be an enigma - to me she still kind of is since letters do not tell the whole story like an actual story of someone's life does.

Jun 20, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
There is interesting commentary by Dr. Toole about Lovelace's thoughts and feelings, and she provides some context to the letters. The author clearly adores her subject, but I wonder if letting Lovelace speak for herself a bit more might have been the better tactic here. ...more
Tom Baikin-O'hayon
nice biography, I think it was a bit lacking in technical information, but I'm not sure if I could understand it ...more
Jul 13, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reading for a project at work. Biography of Ada Lovelace, primarily told through her letters to Charles Babbage and others.
Sep 17, 2012 rated it liked it
An interesting but rather unsatisfying biography of Ada Lovelace. It is convincing in that it establishes very credibly that she did, in fact, write the notes on Babbage's Analytical Engine (the amount of pain involved in the editing and printing make it pretty clear that this was no 'lend your name' sort of thing), but other than that it's all dribs and drabs. Most of the letters are fragments, although some of that is because only partial letters remain, it's pretty clear that much of it is ed ...more
This book is a mix of biography and a collection of letters written by Ada Lovelace over the course of her life. As it turns out, I really don't enjoy reading other people's correspondence. You only get the letters she wrote, not the ones written to her, which means that at least a third of the content of this book suffered from lack of context. I liked the biography parts of the book much better, but as a biography, this book is pretty lacking.

From a historical point of view (not that I know mu
May 21, 2009 marked it as paused
I got a copy of this book about 10 years ago at a booksellers convention that a friend got me into. It looks like I started to read it, but didn't finish. I'm going to have to finish it someday. Ada was the only legitimate child of Lord Byron and a brilliant woman. She worked with Charles Babbage on his Difference Engine and there is a computer language used by the Department of Defense named after her. She was definitely ahead of her time. ...more
Linda Barr
Much if the book consists of letters Ada Lovelace wrote, and that gives a good picture of what she was like. The narrative is interesting but leaves a lot of questions. Still, this is an interesting look at a woman who was clearly 100 years ahead of her time. She foresaw the modern computer at a time when women weren't even supposed to be interested in math or science. ...more
Mar 11, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: math-science
The letters from Ada to Charles Babbage were by far the most interesting. I could have done without the bizarre banter between Ada and her husband, and her and her mother. Referring to each other as different bird names? I guess epistolary protocol has changed quite a bit since then, and it seems mostly for the better.
Chris Ingram
Jan 02, 2014 rated it liked it
Source material referred to in Gleick's 'The Information' - pretty much what it says, the annotated correspondence of Ada Lovelace, daughter of Lord Byron and confidante of Charles Babbage. ...more
Neil Aitken
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Aug 13, 2018
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Jan 24, 2015
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Jul 07, 2020
Anthony Rose
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Feb 28, 2015
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Dec 01, 2012
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May 29, 2020
Peggy-Dorothea Smith
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Sep 11, 2019
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Sep 30, 2020
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Augusta Ada King-Noel, Countess of Lovelace (born The Hon. Augusta Ada Byron, the daughter of Lord Byron) is known chiefly for her association with Charles Babbage and his proto-computer, the Analytical Engine. Having published the first algorithm for a machine, she is often regarded as the first computer programmer; the the early computer-programming language ADA is named for her. ...more

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