Here is a quick question for you. Do you know who the first programmer was? It wasn’t a male, and it most definitely was not a computer. It was as a woman! In fact, a bunch of women.
You will be surprised to know that women have made many significant contributions to technology. Unfortunately, they have been left out of history books. Celebrating women’s day would be incomplete without paying tribute to these ladies.
So here we reveal 7 women in technology who have been forgotten:
The First Computer Programmers
It wasn’t just one woman; there was a whole gang of women. During the first half of the 20th century, a unit of female mathematicians plotted ballistic trajectories. These calculations became far more complicated than imagined. Two men, later on, decided to build a machine to carry these calculations out. They were named ENIAC, which we all recognize as the first electrical computer.
Although men built the machine, it was female mathematics who programmed it. ENIAC, later on, hired 6 women to become the first coders of the world. They manipulated ENIAC for calculating missile trajectories.
Jean Jennings Bartik, Marlyn Wescoff Meltzer, Frances Bilas Spence, Kathleen McNulty Mauchly Antonelli, Ms. Frances Elizabeth Holberton, and last but not least Ruth Lichterman Teitelbaum were a part of this team. They laid the foundation for future software engineers and programmers.
Long before computers could perform calculations, Annie Easley was hired as the human-computer. She was an African American who was employed at “the lab” which was later called the NASA Glenn Research Center.
She performed calculations and ran simulations. She also started working on FORTRAN and other programming languages like SOAP. Easley was naturally gifted in math. Because of her love for mathematics, she graduated from Cleveland State in mathematics. Even though she had several achievements throughout her career, she remained humble.
The Moon Lady
Neil Armstrong might have made it to the moon, but that wouldn’t have been possible without Margaret Hamilton. She was a space programmer who wrote the flight software code that made it possible to reach the moon.
During Neil Armstrong’s landing, Apollo 11, the computer received several error warnings whenever its radar was overloaded with information. The software that Hamilton created helped the computer determine that landing was essential, and this made everything smooth.
Other than writing this important code, Hamilton was raising a 4-year-old daughter. Her daughter used to accompany her to the lab.
She was awarded NASA’s Exceptional Space Act Award for her dedication to Apollo 11. She also wrote code for the very first portable computer. She founded her company named “Universal Systems Language.”
The Apple Computer Contributor
Did you know Adele Goldberg inspired Steve Jobs to create the first Apple computer? Apple’s desktop environment would haven’t looked the way it looks now had it not been for Adele Goldberg.
Goldberg worked as a researcher at the Xerox PARC. She was the only woman who used to work with a group of men. Adele contributed to creating a Smalltalk-80 programming language. She also developed the design and infrastructure for GUI.
In a TV interview, she revealed that her superiors encouraged her to show GUI and Smalltalk to Steve Jobs. He was thrilled to see her inventions. He knew that the GUI represented the future of computing and Apple.
The Inventor of Googling
Karen Sparck Jones was the one who gave the idea of Googling something. Search engines rely on natural language processing discoveries, and Ms Jones has made that possible. Margaret Masterman, a female professor, recruited her into the “Language Research Unit of Cambridge.
She also laid the groundwork for storing information retrieval. She generated the idea of using thesauri in language processing. This made it easier for the computer to recognize similar words. She also introduced the concept of term weighting in information retrieval. This helped determine which term was the most relevant in the query.
The One Who Saved The Internet
Megan Smith, the former Google VP, was appointed as 3rd Chief Technology Officer under the presidency of Barack Obama. She was the one who advised Obama to maintain net neutrality. She also endorsed the free and open internet.
Smith created an online resource that honors and tells stories of women who contributed to science and technology. She is a strong advocate of the inclusion of women in STEM.
The Smartphone Market
Before there was an iPhone or Blackberry, there was Palm Pilot.
Donna Dubinsky was the one who introduced PDAs to the world of business. They were built by Jeff Hawkins, but the one who brought them to the market was Dubinsky.
She was a Harvard graduate. She founded the first PDA Company called Palm. Then she founded Handspring that sold Visor PDA. It was able to store data and let you play a few games.
These Women in technology heroes are just a few to name. There are so many others who have made noticeable contributions. It is crucial that the world knows their story and appreciates them more.
Team Origami appreciates the contribution of these and many other women who are contributing to various walks of life every single day. Here’s wishing you all a very Happy Women’s Day!