Ada Lovelace (1815-52) was the daughter of Lord Byron. She was educated to be a mathematician because her mother feared she might turn out to be a poet like her father.

Lovelace worked closely with Charles Babbage (1791-1871) on the design of his ‘analytical engine’, a machine for performing mathematical calculations, widely regarded as the forerunner of the modern computer.

This letter from Lovelace to Babbage proposes an example of a calculation that ‘may be worked out by the engine without having been worked out by human head and hands first’. It is the first time that the principle of the computer program had been set out in writing.