Today is Ada Lovelace Day, a celebration of the role of women in technology. Ada Lovelace is credited as being the World's first computer programmer, thanks to the work she did in writing a program to generate a Bernoulli number series using Charles Babbage's Analytical Engine. This is all the more remarkable when you discover that the Analytical Engine was never built during Ada's lifetime; in fact we are still waiting for Babbage's general purpose mechanical computer to arrive. Among the insights that Ada had of computers is that computers do not "think" as we do, and do not have creativity of their own, which is something that still provokes discussion today.
Computer programming is often thought of as something that is very mathematical in nature, and in fact the great computer scientist Edsger Dijkstra said explicitly that he thought that only the brightest mathematicians should engage in computer programming. Ada was certainly a gifted mathematician, but also it seems to me incredibly creative, and it's often overlooked that computer programming is as much a process of creativity and imagination as it is one of pure mathematics. Ada's contribution to computer science came nearly 100 years before the modern computer revolution started with the electronic industry of the 1940s. Her contribution needs to be celebrated not just as a woman in technology, but as one of the great scientific figures in all history.