Someone bought an original painting of Ada Lovelace on eBay. Ada was the daughter of George Gordon Lord Byron, the English romantic poet. She was a mathematician (unusual for a woman at that time) and she was purportedly the lover of Charles Babbage who designed a steam powered difference engine. Babbage’s machine, although never completed was a real modern computer in every way, capable of programming, loops, branches, input and output. Ada, supposedly wrote the first ever computer programs. She is the first hacker.
Up to this time, there were few known original paintings of Ada and the modern representations of her are all copies of copies from copies in books and magazines of the time.
Many working versions of the Babbage difference engine have been built and there are several good emulator programs on the web. At the time, the steel that was available to Babbage and his mechanic was too soft and they had problems with the machine jamming all the time. The design was good, but the stress on the rods and gears was too much for the brass and steel of the time. I think that good steel was available, but it was probably too difficult to work. Probably the tolerances on the gear trains which had virtual lengths of miles, might have contributed to the problems. Babbage produced small working models of parts of his engine, but the complete one was not completed before he went bankrupt.
Legend has it that Ada and Charles used the parts of the engine to calculate the odds at horse racing. Ada sold her jewels to bet heavily on several races. Unfortunately, races at the time (as is true now) had little to with mathematics and much to do with behind the scenes manipulation of races, horses and payouts. They lost everything.
“Ada Lovelace, formally known as Ada Byron, Countess of Lovelace is credited with creating the world's first computer program for the Babbage steam-powered calculating engine. The United States military named their Ada programming language after her and her portrait is used in some Microsoft hologram stickers.”