This lovely lady is Ada Lovelace. She worked with Charles Babbage to program his proto-computers. The foundation? Punch cards used in textile mills. Here's an image of the cards used in the Jacquard Loom.
My knitting machine patterns automatically using punch cards. I have been copying patterns out of 322 Machine Knitting Stitches. Out of print, but readily available.
The fair isle ones are somewhat obvious. However, look at number 32! Tuck stitch shows that you can't tell what you are going to get from looking at the card. I made a sweater with number 32, by the way. I will show it to you later.Here's what you need to program like Ms. Lovelace: a punch card puncher (a nice lady on Ravelry just GAVE it to me. Shipped it and everything); a blank punch card (eBay); and a wax pencil or China marker.
The china marker makes strong marks on the sheet, and can be wiped off with a finger if you make a mistake. If you mess up and punch a wrong hole, just tape the circle back in with scotch tape. You can see where I did this on the left. I got WAY off. No matter.
It takes a while, but it is pretty nifty.