Recently, I came across a book about Grace Hopper where it is stated that Howard Aiken wanted her to become familiar with papers by Ada Lovelace and Charles Babbage as he considered some of Babbage's ideas interesting and worth implementing.

Personally, I have always suspected that the von Neumann scheme is very similar to a design of Babbage's analytical engine - there are input and output devices, a controller, memory, and ALU (a mill in Babbage's words).

So, my question is if any other of modern computing pioneers - like von Neumann, Mauchly, Eckert, Bush, Atanasoff, Zuse to name few - also claimed that they were inspired by Babbage's and Lovelace's work. Any link to literature/articles/papers will be appreciated.

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    $\begingroup$ See also the post Did Turing know of Babbage's work? $\endgroup$ Oct 13, 2020 at 14:47
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    $\begingroup$ Maurice WIlkes, in his 1985 Memoirs Of A Computer Pioneer, says he knew about Babbage's work from about 1946 on, in connection with the "can computers think?" controversy. $\endgroup$ Oct 13, 2020 at 15:01

1 Answer 1


According to Wikipedia:

Ada is a programming language designed a team led by Jean Ichbiah at Honeywell under contract to the US Department of Defense from 1977-1983 to supersede over 450 programming languages then used by the DoD then.

Given the name, we can certainly see that people were inspired by Ada's example. In fact, the Military Standard reference manual was approved on 10th Dec, 1980 - which is Ada's birthday - or to give her full title: Augusta Ada King, Countess of Lovelace, nee Byron.

(Although the Wikipedia article rather sneers at it for being a bulky and cumbersome language, at the time it was an innovative language and compact given just how many languages it was designed to supersede. I might add, one might want to take a look under the hood of Windows, or Visual Basic to see a modern bulky language. They also sneer at it for being designed by committee. Of course, if they used their eyes and heads they ought to notice that committees are rife everywhere. In modern commercial parlance they are not called committee's - they are called teams).

It's worth noting, given its military origins, that it was adopted as an open standard by ANSI in 1983 - not much later after the design and implementation work on the language had finished. Moreover, given its design objectives it was successful as the number of ad-hoc languages dropped from 450 to just 37 by the late 90s.


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