Charles Babbage meets Bill Gates (plus an unexpected digression about women in computing…)

I can’t possibly afford it, but you have no idea how much I want this steampunk keyboard…And the equivalant laptop is gorgeous.

Whilst sort-of on the subject (if you don’t know what steampunk is, here’s a primer), I’m not sure why but I always find it strangely fascinating that the first computer programmer, and the person who seemed to first twig that computers could be used for more than just number-crunching, was Byron’s daughter, Ada Lovelace – maybe it’s because of the perceived divide between the arts and the sciences. I’ve only just found out about Ada Lovelace Day on 24 March, which I wouldn’t have been able to contribute much to, but hey, I’d’ve tried… I like the idea that the first ‘hacker‘ (in the most positive sense of the term) was a women – it’s so unstereotypical, and certainly not what you’d necessarily expect from the Victorians. Given the gender disparity in the IT industry, maybe that’s somethng worth promoting…


6 thoughts on “Charles Babbage meets Bill Gates (plus an unexpected digression about women in computing…)

    1. matthewhyde Post author

      Ooo, thanks for that; over the last few weeks I’ve developed something of an obsession with steampunk, for no apparent reason. Maybe it’s just a way of appreciating Industrial Revolution aesthetics without having to think about all the cholera outbreaks and the environmental issues…
      Of course, I was born and raised in the Midlands of England, which was at the heart of the Industrial Revolution, so really steampunk is just a sci-fi spin on my cultural heritage!

      1. novak

        That seems to me the best possible way of looking at it.
        And, of course, as an historian, I’m all for getting past the Hollywood History idea of ethics of looking at any period for a fault and then being able to dismiss the whole of it. I doubt that there has ever been an era so narcissistic as our own.

      2. matthewhyde Post author

        Absolutely. We’re a generation with a superiority complex (although, perhaps controversially, I’m not sure we’ve got that much to show for it).
        Actually, this conversation made me have a quick look at my area’s industrial hertiage, and I was surprised to find out that the Lunar Society of Birmingham had a good relationship with Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson. I think that’s one of the problems with how history is taught in the UK – it’s easy to approach the subject in silos, which doesn’t do justice to the linkages between events. That’s why it’s sometimes a shock to find out that, say, John Milton once met Galileo, or that some of the key players of the Industrial Revolution based in Britain’s manufacturing heartland were friends with Founding Fathers of the United States.
        Sorry, bit of a digression there!

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