Ada’s mother’s terror of poetry maybe wasn’t as nutty as it sounds. Her father, Lord Byron, probably had bipolar disorder, a mental illness, so when she talked about being afraid of Ada inheriting his “poetical tendencies” – it’s possible this is what she meant.
There are also several amateur projects to recreate the engine, including one made entirely from Lego.
But no-one has been able to build the much more complicated Difference Engine, yet. There is a project underway to build the thing in computer 3D, and then use that to build the real engine. Which would allow us to see if it really worked, and even test the programs Ada Lovelace wrote for it. That’s a long time to wait to debug your code…
Charles and Ada’s work, despite being very similar to modern computers in many respects, had no influence on later scientists. With one exception. The first computers were similar in scope to the Difference Engine – they were designed to calculate one thing: the trajectory of missiles. But computer genius Alan Turing had read Ada’s notes, and he was the first person to realise that you could build a computer that could be programmed to perform any task.
If you like history you should totally be reading Hark! A Vagrant.
You might also enjoy Sidney Padua’s 2D Goggles, complete with convoluted nerdy jokes and extensive historical footnotes!
CorpseTalk with Charles Babbage and Ada Lovelace is published in The Phoenix Issue 70.