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Programmer Buys Original Ada Lovelace Painting On eBay 86

Posted by kdawson
from the mother-of-us-all dept.
An anonymous reader sends the story of the rediscovery of an original painting of Ada Byron at about age 4, the girl who was to become Countess Lovelace and the world's first computer programmer. A US Army sergeant in Tajikistan caught wind of an eBay auction of a 180-year-old painting of Ada Byron, with provenance; he notified a programmer buddy in Texas, who won the auction.
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Programmer Buys Original Ada Lovelace Painting On eBay

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  • by poopdeville (841677) on Tuesday March 25, 2008 @01:30AM (#22853962)
    Painting is Closest Texas Man Will Get to a Woman
  • I was thinking of a different Lovelace...
  • suspicious? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ILuvRamen (1026668) on Tuesday March 25, 2008 @01:35AM (#22853990)
    well pardon me for being skeptical but after reading:

    It was assumed that the original portrait had been lost forever, until a Canadian antique dealer put the original framed watercolor sketch on eBay
    I think it might still be lost forever if you know what I mean. Usually when someone just kinda "finds" a painting and puts it straight to ebay, IT'S A FAKE!
    • You have to assume that there was some sort of contract between them.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by cavePrisoner (1184997)

      Experts soon agreed that the portrait was done in the 1820s when Ada was approximately four-years-old.
      Perhaps the experts are wrong, but personally I'm of the opinion that if its good enough for the experts its good enough for me.
    • by RuBLed (995686)
      easy, the fake one when burned would have a red flame.
    • Re:suspicious? (Score:5, Informative)

      by TapeCutter (624760) on Tuesday March 25, 2008 @02:15AM (#22854174) Journal
      Two words - "with provenance".

      Paintings of nobility from the 1800's are not in short supply, they are usually valued by the reputation of the artist not the subject of the painting. It's much more likely that the dealer had no idea why geeks would be more interested than art collectors.
      • Re:suspicious? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by will_die (586523) on Tuesday March 25, 2008 @04:29AM (#22854616) Homepage
        If the item shown in the article is the "provenance" then it does not qualify.
        A real provenance needs to make specific reference to the article and have specific and traceable details about the past owners. This looks to be just a quick history of the painter, if it was the correct painter. There is nothing that directly relates to the painting or who the painting is of.

        As for the subject I presume they would of done a quick search of the subject, the painter, Frank Stone ARA, is fairly famous for his painting and mainly for being the father of Marcus Stone. Marcus was really famous in his time and was a close friend of Charles Dickens. Any search for Ada Byron links right to a history of her. So you have a painter who has some name recognition and a named subject who is easy to research; tie that in with a tech savy, sells on ebay(tech savy may be a strech) but aleast is capable of doing some searching.

        BTW, what was the final selling price for this?
        • A heads up to anyone interested in hunting for the sell price. The item is no longer listed under ebay's "completed listings."
        • "If the item shown in the article is the "provenance" then it does not qualify."

          I understand 'provenance' but this is slashdot, how the hell would I know what's in TFA? ;)
    • Re:suspicious? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by leicaman (1260836) on Tuesday March 25, 2008 @09:30AM (#22856182) Homepage
      Robert is a friend of mine. Has been for almost 20 years. And I can confirm this is real as far as he is concerned, and he's done his best to confirm its veractiy. It's not a fake. And such accusations without proof are libelous (being in written form), no doubt based on jealousy, not to mention is basically irrational.
      • Re:suspicious? (Score:4, Informative)

        by DerekLyons (302214) <(moc.liamg) (ta) (retawriaf)> on Tuesday March 25, 2008 @11:28AM (#22857898) Homepage

        And I can confirm this is real as far as he is concerned, and he's done his best to confirm its veractiy.

        Who cares what he believes or what he's 'confirmed'. 'Provenance' in the art and antiques world means something - it means an expert has performed the research and certifies the item is real. For an item this important, it's a quasi legal document, signed and notarized - with a full description of the item, a full description of the research, and a full description of why the expert believes the item in question to be real. It's not a handwritten biography of the supposed subject of the provenance on a sheet of letterhead.
         
        Mandatory disclaimer: I have been a used and rare bookseller and have dealt with provenances on a minor basis.

        And such accusations without proof are libelous (being in written form), no doubt based on jealousy, not to mention is basically irrational.

        Wrong on all three counts.
        • Motive? (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Weaselmancer (533834)

          And such accusations without proof are libelous (being in written form), no doubt based on jealousy, not to mention is basically irrational.

          Wrong on all three counts.

          Let's see, the OP is saying he is convinced the painting is real, he is doing his best to shut up anyone questioning his claim, and he is claiming anyone who does question his claim is irrational.

          You know, if someone was trying to sell a fake they'd do these exact three things. Make a claim, try to silence opposition to the claim, and discredit his detractors.

          I'm not saying it is a fake, I'm just saying this guy is obviously paving the way for selling the painting, but doing it exactly like a con art

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by DerekLyons (302214)

            Let's see, the OP is saying he is convinced the painting is real, he is doing his best to shut up anyone questioning his claim, and he is claiming anyone who does question his claim is irrational.

            Not quite - the OP is a friend of the buyer and is defending him.

            You know, if someone was trying to sell a fake they'd do these exact three things. Make a claim, try to silence opposition to the claim, and discredit his detractors.

            Much more likely the friend (Robert) has a great deal of emotional

      • are you kidding me? Saying that the painting it real without proof is irrational and libel and blah blah blah. You're pretty immature and whiney, you know that? Well as soon as Ada's painting sues me for insulsing it by saying it might not be real, I'll give a crap. And OMG get real, I'm not jealous. I didn't even know who she is and I'm not one of those arrogant, self important people who need to own rare art to feel special.
      • It looks to me that the letter simply confirms that there was an artist who lived at the right time, and there may be an old painting painted at the right time and possibly by that same artist -- BUT not that it's a painting of Ada Byron...
    • by UnanimousCoward (9841) on Tuesday March 25, 2008 @09:36AM (#22856248) Homepage Journal
      And, I have a grilled cheese sandwich with the likeness of Ada that I'm about to sell the dude...
  • A.I... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by headkase (533448) on Tuesday March 25, 2008 @01:43AM (#22854024)
    Ada Lovelace was the daughter of Lord Byron who was strongly associated and interacted greatly with Percy Shelly who was married to Mary Shelly. Mary Shelly wrote Frankenstein which - wrapped in the language of the times - was a stab at Artificial Intelligence - but without intelligence separated from the physical representation (i.e. no concept of an artifact such as a computer) so artificial life was the metaphor instead. Blah blah blah I should go on Jeopardy.
  • Next up.... (Score:5, Funny)

    by grilled-cheese (889107) on Tuesday March 25, 2008 @01:50AM (#22854070)
    Next up on the auction block, the moth Grace Hopper pulled from a Mark II on September 9th, 1947.
  • Sorry (Score:4, Informative)

    by $RANDOMLUSER (804576) on Tuesday March 25, 2008 @01:56AM (#22854094)
    I can't give "world's first computer programmer" to Ada Lovelace - I have to give it to Joseph Marie Jacquard [wikipedia.org], inventor of the Jacquard Loom [wikipedia.org]. Babbage's Analytical Engine [wikipedia.org] was to use cards - based on Jacquard's idea.
    • Re:Sorry (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) * <whineymacfanboy@gmail.com> on Tuesday March 25, 2008 @02:12AM (#22854160) Homepage Journal
      I can't give "world's first computer programmer" to Ada Lovelace - I have to give it to Joseph Marie Jacquard

      But Jacquard wasn't programming a computer - he was programming a loom. Not that we're not indebted to him, but a loom is not a computer.
      • Re:Sorry (Score:5, Informative)

        by RodgerDodger (575834) on Tuesday March 25, 2008 @02:44AM (#22854280)
        Got to back that up. Babbage always gave credit to Jacquard for the idea (of using cards), but his personal spin on it was to make it general purpose - to solve any problem that could be expressed in the form of an algorithm.

        That's the power of the computer - the fact that it is general purpose, not single purpose.

        FWIW Jacquard got the idea of using cards to control looms from earlier mechanised looms that used cylinders with raised dots - which in turn came from mechanical music organs.
      • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward
        What Ada realised that Babbage missed wasn't programming as such, but realise the potential of abstracting the 'input' so that it didn't just do number crunching. Which is, in essense, what a programming 'language' is.

        There was a very interesting discussion on the BBC here

        http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/history/inourtime/inourtime_20080306.shtml [bbc.co.uk]

        About Ada Lovelace and her relationship with Babbage that you can listen to.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by cpuffer_hammer (31542)
      But since the Analytical Engine was never built (within her lifetime). She was never faces with debugging, code maintenance, or any of the other boring parts of the programmers trade. So can she really be given the credit of "world's first computer programmer". Or is it unfair to blame a software person because the hardware developers let the schedule slip.
      • Re:Sorry (Score:5, Funny)

        by Magada (741361) on Tuesday March 25, 2008 @06:27AM (#22855020) Journal
        Well, you have your answer right there in your question. Didn't debug or test before releasing, code maintenance is left to whoever inherits it, there's almost no documentation and there are no comments in code. A Real Programmer through and through, if you ask me.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by lamona (743288)
      The difference between the Jacquard Loom and Babbage's Analytical engine is explained by Ada Lovelace in her Notes on the Analytical Engine: [fourmilab.ch]

      The Analytical Engine, on the contrary, is not merely adapted for tabulating the results of one particular function and of no other, but for developing and tabulating any function whatever. In fact the engine may be described as being the material expression of any indefinite function of any degree of generality and complexity, such as for instance, F(x, y, z, log x,

    • If you read http://www.fourmilab.ch/babbage/sketch.html [fourmilab.ch], Ada Lovelace clearly was the inventor of software bloat.

      "Perhaps the immense number of cards required for the solution of any rather complicated problem may appear to be an obstacle; but this does not seem to be the case. There is no limit to the number of cards that can he used. Certain stuffs require for their fabrication not less than twenty thousand cards, and we may unquestionably far exceed even this quantity."

      Knowing that she was bled to d

  • by Anonymous Coward
    ...I read that the painting was done before she got all hot. Go recover paintings of her from her twenties!
  • by kemushi88 (1156073) on Tuesday March 25, 2008 @02:28AM (#22854214) Homepage
    What do you suppose a "Hello, World" program looks like for an analytical engine?
  • by vigmeister (1112659) on Tuesday March 25, 2008 @02:58AM (#22854320)
    In spite of inpiring generations of programmers, Lady Ada Lovelace remains the last known female programmer. According to lore, Countess Lovelace developed a protocol for what is now known as instant messaging. When she armed the regular patrons of 'Ye Olde Slash of the Dot' with this technique, she found herself endlessly harassed by messages inexplicably containing the letters A, S and L separated by slashes. She purportedly proceeded to found a secret organization that trains female programmers but also strictly forbids them from identifying their professions to the male species. Patrons of the similarly community gathering location named Slashdot are still eagerly awaiting the first woman who is caught unawares so that they can ask her if she would like to cyber.

    Cheers!
  • Ada boy!
  • The Cogwheel Brain (Score:4, Informative)

    by 91degrees (207121) on Tuesday March 25, 2008 @05:13AM (#22854760) Journal
    In Doran Swade's book - The Cogwheel Brain - it's suggested that Ada Lovelace's influence on computer software was somewhat exaggerated. Letters from her certainly suggest she had a severely inflated ego.

    As far as major role models for female software developers go I pick Grace Hopper, who is on record as having had considerable involvement in computer development, and may, or may not have coined the term "computer bug".
  • Well done laddie
  • Makes me wonder why there aren't more female programmers tbh... women *did* start the field...
  • That's one awesome painting for a 4-year-old! It's cool that she was the first programmer, but she really missed her calling if she didn't paint more!

    • by iknowcss (937215)
      I don't think that "by" and "of" are replaceable words.

      An anonymous reader sends the story of the rediscovery of an original painting of Ada Byron
  • Prayer to Lady Ada (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Johnny Fusion (658094) <zenmondo@gmail.cBALDWINom minus author> on Tuesday March 25, 2008 @10:33AM (#22856996) Homepage Journal
    Lady Ada,
    Look down upon this humble coder,
    Guide me with your unerring logic.

    Lady Ada,
    Inspire me with your genius,
    may I code a thing of beauty.

    Lady Ada,
    You set the path before me,
    may I follow it for the rest of my days.
  • Here [npg.org.uk] is an image of an 1832 William Henry Mote engraving that was "probably" based on a work by Frank Stone, the artist who is supposed to have painted the original portrait. The image is rather small, but there is a striking resemblance to the painting depicted in the article.
    • by audubon (577473)
      Another bit of info: although there is no current listing for "Bashford's Corner Ltd.", at "736 Seventeenth Avenue Southwest, Calgary, Alberta, Canada," one "Capt. C. C. Bashford" is listed as a director, and the following obituary is listed Here [ogs.on.ca]:

      BASHFORD, Charles Christopher (1928-2005) Charles Christopher BASHFORD passed away peacefully in Calgary, Alberta on Tuesday, May 31, 2005 at the age of 76 years. Christopher is survived by his loving wife, three children and three grandchildren. He was a well know

  • He was expecting Linda.

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