Ada Byron was the world's first programmer. Ada tried to program Charles Babbage's (12/26/1791-10/18/1871) Folly. Recently, a team at Carnegie Mellon built a working model of Babbage's Analytical Engine and confirmed that his design and Ada's programs worked! Modern day technology was necessary to make Babbage's dream come true. The gears of the day were not as accurate as was needed.
Babbage's machine was supposed to be the first programmable computer even though it was made of mechanical gears and pulleys as opposed to today's electro-mechanical PCs!
Unfortunately, Babbage died destitute in an insane asylum before perfecting his machine. There's even a programming language called Ada! Lady Lovelace, though long estranged from her father, assumed the Barony herself later in life.
Babbage did succeed in creating the Difference Engine, among several other inventions, which could calculate trig tables and ocean tides. The Difference Engine was such a marvel for its time, it even inspired this scifi novel by Willam Gibson of Cyber Punk fame.
Many people wrote blogs yesterday in Ada's honor. I suppose this one is my contribution! Take a look at some more,