Which Programming Language Is Named After The World’s First Computer Programmer?
Ada Lovelace–born Augusta Ada Byron, later known as Ada Lovelace after becoming the Countess of Lovelace when her husband William King became the Earl of Lovelace–is best known for her work on Charles Babbage’s analytical engines.
Her surviving notes regarding work on the engines include what is recognized as the first algorithm intended to be processes by a machine and, as such, she is considered the world’s first computer programmer. Although her algorithms were not implemented within her lifetime, they are significant in that they predicted a time in which computers would perform tasks beyond simple calculations–her contemporaries, including Babbage himself, remained fixated on the actual construction of the machine and the calculations that would follow.
Over a century after her death, programmers working for the United States Department of Defense honored her role as the first programmer by christening a new programming language after her. Ada, an object-oriented high-level computer programming language, was created in the 1970s under contract from the United States Department of Defense. The goal was to replace the hundreds of diverse and incompatible languages used across the Department–many of which were quickly becoming obsolete and were too hardware-dependent. To that end the Ada project was wildly successful, so much so that by 1987 the DoD demanded that any project where more than 30% of the output was new code would be programmed in Ada. Ada reigned supreme until 1997 when the DoD shifted towards a higher utilization of off-the-shelf technology (including programming languages).
Although it is no longer a mandated DoD programming language, Ada still enjoys widespread popularity both in and outside the Department thanks to excellent stability and security features. The language is frequently used in mission critical applications where reprogramming isn’t an option or failure would yield costly or catastrophic results. Current applications for Ada include commercial rockets, traffic control, satellite control systems, railway control systems, and banking infrastructure.