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In early 1945 the United States military was recruiting female mathematicians for a top secret project to help win World War II Betty Jean Jennings Bartik a twenty year old college graduate from rural northwest Missouri wanted an adventure so she applied for the job She was hired as a “computer” to calculate artillery shell trajectories for Aberdeen Proving Ground and later joined a team of women who programmed the Electronic Numerical Integrator And Computer ENIAC the first successful general purpose programmable electronic computer In 1946 Bartik headed up a team that modified the ENIAC into the first stored program electronic computer Even with her talents Bartik met obstacles in her career due to attitudes about women’s roles in the workplace Her perseverance paid off and she worked with the earliest computer pioneers and helped launch the commercial computer industry Despite their contributions Bartik and the other female ENIAC programmers have been largely ignored In the only autobiography by any of the six original ENIAC programmers Bartik tells her story exposing myths about the computer’s origin and properly crediting those behind the computing innovations that shape our daily lives


10 thoughts on “Pioneer Programmer

  1. says:

    You know you've probably done something right with your life if you have a museum named after you Unfortunately Jean Jennings is one of those incredible personalities that even many who work in the same field as she a field she helped pioneer have never heard aboutJean was a programmer She created programs for the ENIAC the first stored program computer along with an amazing talented group of women during and after the second World War She helped design and program the next generation of computers EDVAC and UNIVAC as wellSo why haven't many people heard of her and the other women of the ENIAC? Because for the most part they have been written out of history Many popular books on computing including those written by those who worked closely with Jean and her female coworkers either never mention them mention them in passing without naming them or flat out claim credit for the work they performed In this book Jean Jennings Bartik attempts to set the record straight and to give credit to the women who helped pioneer the emerging field of computer programmingBeside setting this record straight this book provides an enlightening view of the post war evolution of computing Jean worked for several companies that played a big part in that development including Remington Rand and a number of publishing houses specializing in the documentation of computing systemsAfter the publication of an article on the ENIAC women in the mid 90s Jean and her compatriots finally got the accolades they deserved and she went on to earn many honors Despite working in what continues to be a chauvinistic and male dominated industry she encouraged women to work in and bring their perspective to emerging technologiesThe tech industry needs women like Jean Jennings BartikI would have rated this book all five stars except there are some editing errors There are whole phrases that seem to be replicated word for word often separated by many pages Not a big deal just a little weird and while reading on my Nook had me wondering if I'd accidentally gone back pages