The Analytical Engine, which, like the Difference Engine, existed mostly on paper during Babbage's lifetime, was envisioned as a general calculating device. The user would input punched cards into the machine, which would be processed by rotating barrels. The machine would output to a printer, a plotter, or a ringing bell. (Babbage was inspired by the Jacquard loom, which used punched cards to "program" certain weaves, such as a brocade or a damask.)
The design of the Analytical Engine is nothing like that of today's MacBook, but it has all the basic architecture. It distinguished between program memory and data memory. It had a separate input/output unit. It accepted conditional "if/then" expressions.
Of course, the average laptop is millions of times more powerful. According to John Graham-Cumming, a British programmer and writer who is seeking to build a real-life Analytical Engine, the machine would have 675 bytes of memory and a clock speed of 7 Hz. Graham-Cumming told the BBC that if completed, Babbage's machine would be "about the size of a small steam train."
The Analytical Engine was a lifelong passion for Babbage; he tinkered with designs until the end of his life, in 1871. But it took a young mathematician with a storied family history to grasp the full potential of Babbage's machine.
Lord Byron never knew Ada. He abandoned her and her mother, Annabella Milbanke, when his daughter was only a few months old, and he died when she was eight. Annabella, intent on discovering traces of Byron's volatile personality in his offspring, subjected Ada to intensive schooling in science and mathematics from a young age.
Ada showed remarkable talent in math, and by the time she was seventeen she was introduced to Charles Babbage, who called her "The Enchantress of Numbers."
Ada, who in 1838 became the Countess of Lovelace corresponded with Babbage about his Difference and Analytical engines, and, in 1842 and 1843, she translated an essay about the Analytical Engine by the Italian statesman and mathematician Luigi Menabrea.