A Lovelace with other talents ..
.. who knew?
(Paris as a latter day Linda Lovelace)
Today was Ada Lovelace Day, a day for commemorating women's contribution to science and technology, named after the woman who is widely credited as being the world's first computer programmer. Augusta Ada King, the Countess of Lovelace and daughter of Lord Byron, was an English writer who collaborated with British …
"The Gaming Lady is bad luck to those that know her. When a poor night at the wagering machines has emptied her purse, her jewels are carried privately into Lombard Street, and Fortune is tempted yet again with a sum from my lady's pawnbroker! Then she sells off her wardrobe as well, to the grief of her maids; stretches her credit amongst those she deals with, pawns her honor to her intimates, in vain hope to recover her losses!
"The passions suffer no less by this gaming-fever than the understanding and the imagination. What vivid, unnatural hope and fear, joy and anger, sorrow and discontent, burst out all at once upon a roll of the dice, a turn of the card, a run of the shining gurneys! Who can consider without indignation that all those womanly affections, which should have been consecrated to children and husband, are thus vilely prostituted and thrown away. I cannot but be grieved when I see the Gaming Lady fretting and bleeding inwardly from such evil and unworthy obsessions; when I behold the face of an angel agitated by the heart of a fury!
"It is divinely ordered that almost everything which corrupts the soul, must also decay the body. Hollow eyes, haggard looks, and pale complexion are the natural indications of a female gamester. Her morning sleeps cannot repair her sordid midnight watchings. I have looked long and hard upon the face of the Gaming Lady. Yes, I have watched her well. I have seen her earned off half-dead from Crockford's gambling-hell, at two o'clock in the morning, looking like a specter amid a flare of wicked gas-lamps --
"Pray resume your seat, sir. You are in the House of God. Is that remark to be taken as a threat, sir? How dare you. These are dark times, grave times indeed! I tell you, sir, as I tell this congregation, as I will tell all the world, that I have seen her, I have witnessed your Queen of Engines at her vile dissipations --
"Help me! Stop him! Stop him! Oh dear Jesus, I am shot! I am undone! Murder! Can none of you stop him?"
This is of course crap.
Inventions do not happen in a vaccuum. Industry still works with or without those put forward as heros.
There were many people working on lightbulbs - Edison scooped the PR. There were many people working on powered flight - the Wright Bros scooped the PR. So too with semiconductor research, computing and pretty much all fields. If we had not had any of these great inventors the world would not be materially different today - others would have taken their place.
In many cases the alternate threads of developmnet (in the cases of lightbulbs, powered flight and integrated circuits at least) were actually far better than those of the well known pioneers that get the glory.
If Ada LL had not been around some other person (female or male) would have performed the function. Perhaps better, perhaps worse, but it would have happened.
>Inventions do not happen in a vaccuum. Industry still works with or without those put forward as heros.
I think you're right. There's rarely any single person who can be credited with an invention. You can credit one person with being the first to announce it. Or the first to make it work. Or the first to sell an object. But usually they are just one of several people working on roughly the same idea and they just happened to be a bit quicker or got a lucky break.
Of course it's right we should celebrate people that invent things but I think that suggesting a given item or technology might not exist if it weren't for just one person is wrong. I'm pretty sure other people would have made the same breakthrough - probably around the same time as well.
If Edison hadn't "scooped the PR" for the invention of lightblbs, would he have gone on to scoop the PR for inventing valves? Would someone else have done it? Without that, would semiconductors just be a curiosity? Without expensive and unreliable devices based on valves, where would be the driving force to develop transistors?
It's pointless to speculate I suppose, but I think the person who actually makes the breakthrough, when they make it, shapes the future.
"Without expensive and unreliable devices based on valves, where would be the driving force to develop transistors?"
Unless I am greatly mistaken, electron tunneling across a PN junction happens with or without a vacuum tube being in the vicinity, and the real minds you should be crediting for transistors are in fact the brains behind quantum electrodynamics; Planck, Heisenberg, Einstein, Pauli, Dirac et al. Semiconductor diodes would have been developed anyway (as a proof of concept), and it would only be a matter of time before someone in a lab somewhere decided to have a play with 3 doped layers sandwiched together "just to see what it does".
So I suspect that without vacuum tubes in any form, we would still have ended up with semiconductor transistors, just on a slightly different timescale, and we'd be lauding a different name in the history books.
Hang on a tick chaps!! I thought the boffins had built a working difference engine (from Babbage's plans), you can see it on display in the London Science Museum (I sure it was Babbage's).
Babbage was renowned for putting mistakes in his plans on purpose, so it may be what's slowing things down, if it wasn't his difference engine i saw...
Paris: Cos I might be having a blonde moment!!
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