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The Innovators by Walter Isaacson - A 30-minute Summary
Inside this Instaread Summary: Overview of the entire book, Introduction to the important people in the book, Summary and analysis of all the chapters in the book, Key Takeaways of the book and A Reader's Perspective.
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Ada Byron, the daughter of poet Lord Byron, was tutored in math by her mother. As a result, she grew up comfortable with the combination of art and science. She met Charles Babbage, a science and math expert. Babbage demonstrated a model of a machine that he built called a Difference Engine that could solve polynomial equations.
Ada was inspired by Babbage’s Difference Engine and decided to undertake advanced lessons in mathematics. Ada became interested in mechanical weaving looms that used punch cards to create patterns in fabric. She recognized the similarity between the looms and Babbage’s Difference Engine. Ada married William King who became the Earl of Lovelace. This made her Ada, Countess of Lovelace, or more commonly, Ada Lovelace.
Babbage had an idea for another machine. He wanted to create a computer that could carry out different operations. He called his concept an Analytical Engine. Babbage wanted to use punch cards in his new machine similar to the ones used in looms.
Ada Lovelace believed in his idea and imagined that it might be used to process other symbolic notations such as for music and art in addition to numbers. From 1842 to 1843, she wrote a translation of notes written by a young military engineer about the Analytical Engine. Her notes became more famous than the engineer’s original article.
Ada’s notes covered four principles of historical significance. The first was that this would be a multi-purpose machine. The second was that it could process and act upon anything that could be expressed in symbols. The third was that the machine would work because of specific instructions given to it. Ada created this sequence of operations herself and wrote it up into a table and diagram. Her creation made her the world’s first computer programmer. The fourth concept Ada wrote about was that computers could not think and could only perform as they were instructed. Babbage’s machine was never built, and Ada never wrote another scientific paper, but their ideas were the beginnings of the digital age that came a century later.
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