Paying Tribute to the Analytical Ada

At Rev1 Ventures, we live by an impactful list of core values that define and drive the work we do daily. We invite not only our team members to practice these core values, but our residents, clients, and stakeholders as well.

We recently received a recommendation from Rev1 Labs resident John Hribar of SenseICs to update the Babbage conference room’s name to “Ada Lovelace.” John’s suggestion aligned with three of our core values, “Persistent Curiosity,” “Ingrained Inclusion,” and “Collaboration.” The updated name now pays respect to Charles Babbage and highlights an amazing woman in science.

We asked John why he suggested Ada Lovelace (lightly edited):

“Ada Lovelace was born in 1815. She was the only legitimate child of the poet Lord Byron, though her parents separated when she was still an infant. Mary Somerville, the Scottish polymath and “queen of science” was Lovelace’s friend and tutor and introduced her to Charles Babbage when she was 17. Lovelace and Babbage remained friends and collaborators until her death in 1852. While Babbage was no doubt brilliant, and his concepts of the ‘Difference Engine’ and ‘Analytical Engine’ were critical to the development of the computer sciences. Lovelace’s analysis of those ideas and their implications have had a more substantial impact on modern computing and society.

In 1840, Babbage gave a series of talks in Turin about his analytical engine, and two years later, Lovelace was asked to translate into English an article about those. She was encouraged by Babbage to supply additional notes, and those notes ended up three times longer than the article itself. In them, she writes an algorithm for computing Bernoulli numbers that was the first-ever published algorithm explicitly created for implementation on a computer, earning her acknowledgment as the first computer programmer. She also first wrote of computers’ potential to go beyond merely calculating numbers, including operating on abstracted objects like text and music.

Why did I recommend the name change? I think because in science, in all evidence-based research, we don’t have the luxury of prejudice. We know that the flashes of inspiration that lead to pretty new understandings and beautiful new mysteries are blind to gender, race, and creed. Because science is uniquely human, and it asks all humans to participate. Because history betrays science when it lies and says only white men get to describe the world. Changing the conference room’s name from a brilliant male visionary to his brilliant female collaborator is undoubtedly only a small attack against this lie. Still, if the only way to kill it is a slow death by a thousand cuts, it’s nice to land one.

Personally, the renamed room will serve as a reminder that, with some luck, a simple request to a sympathetic ear is sometimes enough to be the change a person wants to see in the world. For that, I am very grateful to Maurice, to Alicia, and the rest of Rev1.”

We want to thank John for his recommendation to recognize a woman served as an example of “Persistent Curiosity” and “Ingrained Inclusion,” which allowed for her to have a “Dual-Impact,” another Rev1 core value, on the representation of women and the overall advancement of computer science.

In all that we do, Rev1 strives to remain “Entrepreneur Focused” with “Integrity” and continue collaborating with world-changing startups and technologies just as Ada and Charles did.