The Ages of Ada

by Pasadena Adjacent

Mirrors: Stories of Almost Everyone

Eduardo Galeano

At eighteen, she runs away in the arms of her tutor. At twenty, she marries, or is married, despite her notorious incompetence in domestic matters.

At twenty-one, she begins studying mathematical logic on her own. Not the most appropriate occupation for a lady, but her family indulges her. Maybe that way she will stay in her right mind, and starve off the insanity that her father’s genes have in store for her.

At twenty-five, she invents a foolproof system based on probability theory for winning at the racetracks. She bets the family jewels. She looses everything.

At twenty-seven, she publishes a revolutionary paper. She does not put her name on it. A scientific paper by a woman? That publication makes her the first programmer in history: it lays out a new method for setting up a machine to undertake repetitive tasks and save textile workers from the drudgery of routine.

At thirty-five, she falls ill. The doctors diagnosis hysteria. It is cancer.

In 1852, at the age of thirty-six, she dies. At the very age her father, the poet Lord Byron, whom she never saw, also died.

A century and a half later, in homage to her, one of the languages for programming computers is named Ada.