Ada Byron never knew her father, the poet, who fled England shortly after her birth. Her mother, determined to discipline out of the child her estranged and notorious husband's passionate Romanticism, had Ada study mathematical calculation. The conflict between Lady Byron's program for her daughter and Byron's genetic programming makes a fascinating story. Ada's intellectual mentor was Charles Babbage, generally called the "Father of the Computer." His Analytical Engine - an elaborate imagined system of gears, wheels, and levers - was never built, but Ada was the first to see from mechanical drawings that the machine, in theory, could be programmed. She published her insight as "Notes" to her translation of an Italian lecture on the Analytical Engine, but her achievement was not recognized officially until 1980 when the U.S. Department of Defense named its new super computer language ADA. Unlike other recent writers on the Countess of Lovelace, Joan Baum does justice both to Ada and to her genuine contribution to the history of science. Rather than force tenuous conclusions about this driven personality, Baum appreciates the enigma of a complex young woman who, regardless of motives, anticipated one of the twentieth century's most significant developments.