According to historical accounts, Augusta Ada Byron
(1815-1851), the Countess of Lovelace and the daughter of English poet
Lord Byron, was the first computer programmer. She wrote a program for
Charles Babbage's (1792-1871) proposed "analytical engine," a computer
prototype that was technologically ahead of its time and which,
consequently, could not be constructed. Her work with Babbage and the
essays she wrote about the possibilities of the "engine" established her
as a "patron saint" of the art and science of programming. The
programming language called "Ada" was named in her honor by the United
States Department of Defense.
The first programmer of modern times was Grace Murray Hopper
(1906-1992) of the United States Navy. She wrote a program for the Mark I
computer. The Mark I was the first programmable, digital computer in
the United States and the first to yield accurate results. It was
capable of a range of mathematical calculations and data organization.
Completed in 1943, the Mark I was used by the U.S. military for 15
Sources: Jespersen, James. RAMS, ROMS, and Robots, p. 59; Rheingold, Howard. Tools for Thought, p. 31; Rochester, jack B. The Naked Computer, pp. 43, 45.