Conceiving Ada

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Conceiving Ada
Conceiving Ada (film).jpg
Directed byLynn Hershman Leeson
Produced byLynn Hershman Leeson, Henry S. Rosenthal
Written byLynn Hershman Leeson
Eileen Jones
Sadie Plant
Betty A. Toole
StarringTilda Swinton
Francesca Faridany
Timothy Leary
Karen Black
John O'Keefe
John Perry Barlow
J.D. Wolfe
Music byThe Residents
Release date
  • February 1999 (1999-02) (USA)[1]
Running time
85 minutes
CountryUnited States

Conceiving Ada is a 1997 film produced, written, and directed by Lynn Hershman Leeson. Henry S. Rosenthal was co-producer of the film. The Cinematography by Hiro Narita and Bill Zarchy, the latter being the director of photography.


Emmy Coer is a computer scientist obsessed with Countess Ada Lovelace, author of the first computer algorithm, written for Charles Babbage's "Analytical Engine".[2] She is upset to discover she is pregnant believing that the pregnancy will interfere with her work. Afraid of losing her boyfriend she decides to keep the baby. Emmy tries to work on a way of communicating with Lovelace in the past by way of "undying information waves". She eventually succeeds and is able to communicate with Ada and learn about her studies, her work and how she felt that in many ways her work was hampered by her children and by the time she lived in. Emmy wants to bring Ada into the present by allowing her to inhabit her body. A dying Ada refuses, insisting that Emmy needs to live her own life. However, by 2002 Emmy is raising a daughter who has been embedded with Ada's consciousness and who already shows a precociousness with computers despite the fact that Emmy is trying to raise her to have a normal childhood.



Upon its February 1999 premiere in New York City, Stephen Holden called its premise "intriguing" though the film is "much better at throwing out ideas than at telling a story or at creating compelling characters"; it has a "overall air of woodenness and shrill didacticism."[1]

That same month, Edward Guthmann of the San Francisco Chronicle called it a "film without category or precedent. A meditation on memory, feminism, immortality and the horizons of virtual reality, it's got enough ideas and intellectual fodder for a dozen films—which is its virtue and its defect at the same time. Directed by local video artist Lynn Hershman Leeson, Conceiving Ada is a fanciful, multilayered experiment about two women who connect through cyberspace across the divide of time and discover some remarkable parallels between their lives.[3]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ a b Holden, Stephen (February 26, 1999). "Conceiving Ada: Calling Byron's Daughter, Inventor of a Computer". The New York Times. Retrieved 2015-06-14.
  2. ^ O'Regan, Gerard (2013). Giants of Computing. Springer-Verlag. ISBN 978-1-4471-5340-5.
  3. ^ Guthmann, Edward (February 19, 1999). "Complex Ada' Crosses Divides of Time, Cyberspace". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2015-06-14.