The World's First Computer Program: A Rare Copy of Ada Lovelace's Algorithm Sells for $125,000

Hulton Archive, Getty Images
Hulton Archive, Getty Images

One hundred and fifty years before the computer became a household item, English mathematician Ada Lovelace wrote the first computer algorithm. The Guardian reports that a first-edition manuscript containing that historic program has sold at auction for more than $125,000.

In addition to being the world's first computer programmer, Lovelace was the daughter of the Romantic poet Lord Byron, which allowed her to mingle with England's leading thinkers. As a teenager, she met and became friends with Charles Babbage, the Cambridge mathematics professor who is credited with conceptualizing the first programmable computer. Babbage shared and discussed his ideas for his analytical engine with her for years, and by the time she reached her late 20s, she had her own expertise to offer.

In 1842, Babbage gave a lecture on his concept at the University of Turin. The Italian mathematician Luigi Menabrea transcribed it in French, and Lovelace was asked to transcribe it in English. She inserted her own notes in the text, including a suggestion for an algorithm that would program the engine, and the final manuscript ended up being three times as long as the original transcript.

The manuscript was published in 1843, and there are only six bound copies of it known to exist today. The Moore Allen & Innocent auction house expected the copy they had to sell for $50,000 to $80,000, but it went to an anonymous buyer by way of a Cotswolds book dealer for $125,000.

Lovelace is famous for her role in computer history today, but for decades her work went largely unrecognized. It was only in 2009 that her fans launched Ada Lovelace Day, a date in mid-October dedicated to women in STEM.

Neither Lovelace nor Babbage lived to see the analytical engine become a functioning machine, but Lovelace had an eerily prophetic vision of what their work meant for the future. She predicted that computer programs would one day be used to compose music, create graphics, and conduct scientific work.

[h/t The Guardian]

9 Vintage Thanksgiving Side Dishes We Shouldn’t Bring Back

We all have that aunt—the one who’s been bringing her Miracle-Whip-bound pimiento-pea salad to Thanksgiving dinner since time immemorial. Although you may swear she got her recipe straight from the devil, it turns out that cheese-and-lime-Jell-O salads and their ilk were all the rage in her day. So it’s not (totally) her fault! To cut her a little slack, here are some examples of vintage Thanksgiving-themed recipes that will make her salad look like a perfectly golden-brown turkey.

1. CRANBERRY CANDLE SALAD

Best Foods Mayonnaise Ad 1960s with Jello Molds

Nothing complements the tart, refreshing flavor of cranberry sauce like some gelatin and salty, eggy mayonnaise. If that weren’t weird enough, this recipe also tells you to shove a real candle in there and then light it. Ostensibly, you’re supposed to eat around the melted wax, but we can’t be sure—maybe it’s considered a condiment.

2. CANDIED SWEET POTATOES WITH ANGOSTURA BITTERS

This recipe for candied sweet potatoes, which involves baking them in a mixture of butter, sugar, and angostura bitters, is probably either really good or really bad. It sort of makes sense, adding bitters to cut down on the sugar factor. Alternatively, you could just not make a candied version of something that already has the word sweet in its name.

3. CREAMED ONIONS

This once-popular Thanksgiving mainstay has been neglected over the last century, for perhaps obvious reasons. In some households, the idea was to pour creamed onions over the turkey, like gravy, to add a little moisture. Or possibly because eating a chunky mouthful of pearl onions and cream sauce by itself is gross.

4. TURKEY AND STUFFING ON JELL-O

Thanksgiving Jello Ad

There’s not much to this one, is there? It’s a pile of turkey and stuffing dumped on top of a cranberry orange Jell-O ring—sounds delicious!

5. WINTER CORN

This mixture of corn, sour cream, and bacon is sometimes found on Midwestern Thanksgiving tables. It’s mostly off-putting because its main ingredient is creamed corn. That said, creamed corn really needs all the help it can get, so adding bacon can only improve it.

6. SWEET AND SOUR TANG POPCORN (A.K.A. ASTRONAUT POPCORN)

Reportedly, this was a popular Thanksgiving dessert in the ’70s. The idea seems to be an offshoot of caramel corn, but … with Tang powder.

7. HOT DR. PEPPER

You gotta give the good folks at Dr. Pepper a few points for at least trying here. They noticed that soda was not often considered a cozy, comforting holiday drink, and they stepped up to the bat undaunted. Bold move.

8. FROZEN JELLIED TURKEY-VEGETABLE SALAD

There’s only one way to improve a dish as alluring as Jellied Turkey-Vegetable Salad, and that’s to stick it in the freezer. From the sound of the recipe—which combines cream of celery soup, salad dressing, diced turkey, vegetables, and gelatin—this is basically the inside of a turkey pot pie if it was served frozen. And also if it was square.

9. JELL-O FRUIT CORNUCOPIA

Sure, cornucopias were for holding food in olden times, but don’t you wish you could eat one? Well, guess what—your years of longing are finally over, because someone has made a Jell-O version of one with fruit trapped in it. You don’t even have to take the fruit out of the cornucopia this time—you can just pop the whole thing in your mouth. Dreams do come true.

Can You Match the Disease to Its Olde Tyme Name?

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