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April 30th, 2017 - Ratheesh KrishnaVadhyar's Journal

April 30th, 2017

April 30th, 2017
06:53 pm


The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage
Charles Babbage and Ada, Countess of Lovelace collaborated for the design of what is known as the "first computer in the world" in the 19th century. The gigantic mathematical machines, "Difference Engine" and a more advanced "Analytical Engine", both operating on steam, were designed on paper into elaborate details by Babbage, while Ada wrote what is known as the first computer program, to be executed by the Analytical Engine.

Ada passed away at a young age, soon after her first, and only publication, which was a translation of a paper on the Analytical Engine, with special notes added by her, which were nearly three times the length of the paper (her computer program was part of these notes). Though Babbage lived to a ripe old age, he could never really make a working model of his machine ever. He kept on revising, improvising and optimizing his designs on paper, along with several other futuristic propositions, including a network system in which the messages would be enclosed in steam powered "packets" and sent through a hierarchical system of wires.

In the graphic novel The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage, author Sydney Padua brings back Babbage and Ada, continuing their collaborations in an "imaginary pocket universe". The brilliantly conceived comic book is unlike anything I have read before. Babbage and Ada are presented as very likable and funny characters, going through various other crazy innovations and inventions and associated adventures, like a steam powered spell-check machine, for example (George Eliot is shown to feed in her manuscript for a beta version of the machine, resulting in some disastrous consequences). The book has very detailed footnotes (printed in very small eye-straining fonts, though) and endnotes, which are from the author's elaborate research in the Internet, presenting various facts, anecdotes and gossips regarding the characters in the book. Overall, it was an interesting experience reading this one.

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