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Ada: A Life And A Legacy (History of Computing)

3.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0262691161
ISBN-10: 0262691167
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Augusta Ada Bryon, Countess of Lovelace, the only legitimate daughter of poet Lord Byron, never quite emerges alive from under the letters, memoirs and documents Stein investigates and interprets. A major portion of the book concentrates on Ada's scientific endeavorsfrom her report on Charles Babbage's Analytical Engine (considered the first computer) to her studies in mathematics, electrical current and magnetismand readers who are not scientifically inclined may find the material difficult. Pointing to the vagueness and tentativeness with which Ada questioned Babbage in her letters, Stein breaks the myth of Ada's genius. It is her questing spirit which we should admire, Stein, a psychologist, believes, and so we do, while cringing at Ada's delusionsshe saw herself as on a mission from Heaven. Ada's life was indeed Byronic, the most interesting parts still shrouded in mystery: brought up by an overbearing mother, she tried to run away with her tutor; married and had three children; studied not only mathematics but also music and wrote poetry; had an affair we know nothing about; and gambled obsessively as a gesture of the resentment she felt against both parents, or so the author argues. She suffered from several ills throughout her life, from gastritis to mania to the cancer which killed her, and she left only a small body of work behind. If anyone comes to life in these pages it is Lady Byron, who paraded her martyrdom with her poet husband and her perfection as a mother. November
Copyright 1985 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Augusta Ada Byron, daughter of Lord Byron, and later Countess of Loveless, is known today mostly as an acute mathematician and "interpreter of the designs of the first modern computer." By analyzing original documents, Stein has carefully accessed Ada's mathematical and scientific prowess. Stein corrects several misinterpretations, and shows that Ada was almost anything except the scientiic genius she and others have maintained she was. Nor was Ada the world's first computer programmer. Stein has also given us a view of Victorian science and society, examining such luminaries as Charles Babbage, Augustus De Morgan, and Mary Somerville. Highly recommended for both scholars and interested laypeople. E. Robert Paul, History of Science Program, Dickinson Coll., Carlisle, Pa.
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Series: History of Computing
  • Paperback: 392 pages
  • Publisher: The MIT Press (July 29, 1987)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0262691167
  • ISBN-13: 978-0262691161
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,323,266 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Ada Lovelace was a passionate, intelligent and important figure in history and the history of computing. Too bad that her biography was written by someone who has an unnatural contempt for Ada's many quirks and passions. I don't understand why Dorothy Stein has chosen to write about someone against whom her writing has a clear, negative bias. Stein also should have re-titled the book "A Life and Legacy of Ada Lovelace's Family and Friends." Because there was barely a page regarding the history of computing and Ada's contribution to it, and because the author seemed far more interested in the lives of the people around Ada, than Ada herself. There are countless pages devoted to the histories of people, regardless of importance in Ada's life that received a lot more detail and praise by the author than Ada. Any description of Ada was met with snarkiness and deliberate misinterpretation by the author. For example, any letter where Ada addresses herself as a "fairy" or "high priestess" is interpreted by Ms. Stein as nothing but delusional hubris, where any reader can clearly see this was part of Ada's wittiness and sense of humor. Or Ada's multiple interests in music or writing in addition to mathematics is not seen as a passionate person eager to learn all she can about anything she can, but as the delusional preoccupations of someone who thinks they are gifted. Speaking of letters, this book could also have been re-titled as "Ada: A Collection of Letters" because this book is pretty much that: a collection of letters Ada and her friends and family wrote, interspersed with vastly incorrect or little insights the author made about Ada from those letters, and unnecessary details about everyone but Ada. It is sad that Ms.Read more ›
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I purchased this book for research into the life of Ada Lovelace. The book was well written and revealed aspects of her life that other biographers ignored. I would highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the "first computer programmer".
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Amazing history of one of my ancesters. Shirley Morse Baker
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