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Ada Lovelace, Innovation and Imagination

“Imagination…discovers the real.”

Ada LovelaceAugusta Ada, Countess of Lovelace, was a daughter of poet Lord Byron, and worked with polymath Charles Babbage, who called her The Enchantress of Numbers.

The computer language ADA was named after her, in recognition of her work that helped originate software and computers.

Ada Lovelace talked about her passions for creative imagination and math:

“Imagination is the Discovering Faculty, pre-eminently … It is that which feels & discovers what is, the REAL which we see not, which exists not for our senses.

“Mathematical science shows what is. It is the language of unseen relations between things… Imagination too shows what is … Hence she is or should be especially cultivated by the truly Scientific, those who wish to enter into the worlds around us!”

[In biography Ada: A Life and a Legacy by Dorothy Stein.]

The opening and closing chapters of The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution are about Lovelace. Author Walter Isaacson was made aware of her by his daughter, who wrote an essay on the computer pioneer.

Isaacson writes that the Analytical Engine, a proposed mechanical general-purpose computer designed by Charles Babbage, “was the product of what Ada Lovelace, in her essay on imagination had called ‘the Combining Faculty.'”

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Ada LovelaceAnother profile says Lovelace “believed that intuition and imagination were critical to effectively applying mathematical and scientific concepts.

“She valued metaphysics as much as mathematics, viewing both as tools for exploring ‘the unseen worlds around us.'”

From Wikipedia page – referring to the book Ada, the Enchantress of Numbers: Prophet of the Computer Age, by Betty Alexandra Toole.

Isaacson notes in “The Innovators” how the creation myths of the genesis of tech companies “seek to make heroes out of individuals, rather than the group. And when the contribution of the collective is ignored, it is usually a man who gets the credit.

“Most of the great advances of the digital age were done collaboratively. There is no light bulb moment in the garage when someone comes up with a new idea.”

From The Women Tech Forgot, by Nick Biltonoct, The New York Times  Oct 1, 2014.

Another article on the book “The Innovators” quotes Isaacson that “her mother, Lady Byron, did not want Lovelace to turn out to be like her father, a romantic poet. So Lady Byron had her tutored almost exclusively in mathematics as if that were an antidote to being poetic.”

Her appreciation of the arts as well as math helped Lovelace envision that “a computer can do anything that can be noted logically,” explains Isaacson. “Words, pictures and music, not just numbers.”

From article The Forgotten Female Programmers Who Created Modern Tech by Laura Sydell, All Tech Considered, NPR, October 06, 2014.

[Walter Isaacson is also author of other bios, including: Steve Jobs.]

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Ada Lovelace Day Tuesday 14 October 2014 is “an international celebration of the achievements of women in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM). [See more on the site Finding Ada.]


Ada Lovelace, Innovation and Imagination

Douglas Eby

Douglas EbyDouglas Eby, MA/Psychology, is a writer and researcher on psychology and personal development related to creativity; creator of the , and author of books including [link to book site with excerpts.]
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APA Reference
Eby, D. (2014). Ada Lovelace, Innovation and Imagination. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 14, 2020, from


Last updated: 13 Oct 2014
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