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Calculating Ada: The Countess of Computing

Programme Run: 1 x 60 minutes
Production: BBC
First Transmitted: 2015 HD available

Ada Lovelace was a most unlikely computer pioneer. Dr Hannah Fry tells the story of Ada’s remarkable life.

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Born in the early 19th century, Ada was a countess of the realm, a scandalous socialite and an “enchantress of numbers”.  The film is an enthralling tale of how a life infused with brilliance but blighted by illness and gambling addiction could foresee the modern era of computing.

Hannah Fry traces Ada’s unlikely union with the father of computers Charles Babbage. Babbage designed the world’s first steam powered computers – most famously the analytical engine - but it was Ada who realised the full potential of these new machines.

During her own life Ada was most famous for being the daughter of romantic poet Lord Byron (“mad, bad and dangerous to know”).  And it was only with the advent of modern computing that Ada’s understanding of their flexibility (that they could be far more than mere number crunchers) was recognised as truly visionary.

Hannah explores how Ada’s unique inheritance – poetic imagination and rational logic – made her the ideal prophet of the digital age.


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