Born in 1815, Ada Lovelace was the daughter of poet Lord Byron, but it was her mother who encouraged her to pursue mathematics. When she was about 17, Lovelace befriended inventor Charles Babbage, who’s famous for being the “father of the computer.” Translating a French article for her mentor, Lovelace added her own notes, which were three times longer than the original article. Her work on how to code a computer (which hadn’t been built yet) to use letters and numbers was published in 1843 under “A.A.L.,” locking her place in history as the first computer programmer. Check out these other 58 trailblazing “female firsts” to make history.
During a trip to New York City, Alabama woman Mary Anderson noticed a trolley driver couldn’t see well when it was snowing. At that point, drivers had to open the window to clear it, letting snow and rain into the vehicle. As a solution, Anderson designed and patented wood and rubber arms that would push rain and snow off the window at the pull of a lever. She was told her 1903 invention was distracting and impractical, and never profited off her design.
As the first film actor to be named publicly, Canadian-born Florence Lawrence is widely considered the world’s first “movie star.” But her contributions go way beyond the big screen. Lawrence was an auto aficionado and designed the first turn signal, which raised arms on the car’s fender at the push of a button. She also designed a brake signal that raised and lowered when a driver hit the brakes, though she never patented either of those inventions. Here are more inspiring true stories of women changing the world.