Charles Babbage and the Computer

Some years ago, in response to an altogether unusual number of reader requests, I wrote a column on the work of a woman usually called Ada Lovelace.  (See Function, Volume 24, Part 5; October 2000.)  Ada was the only legitimate  daughter of the poet Byron, and she has acquired a considerable reputation as a mathematician -- a reputation which I argued she does not deserve.  She was certainly greatly interested in Mathematics and studied it under three excellent mathematicians of the time: Mary Somerville, Augustus De Morgan and Charles Babbage.  Here I want to tell a related story, although this will involve my repeating, to some extent, the earlier one.  Her connection with Babbage is what brings us to the primary concern here.