These 6 women were written out of tech history

eniac-women-970x647-cBack in 1942, six mathematicians were hired by the US government to work on a top-secret project – programming America’s first all-electronic digital computer. Without any formal coding language or tools, they managed to create a machine that could perform complex calculations 10,000 times faster than any other machine at the time, essentially kickstarting the digital revolution in the process.

But despite their involvement, most people have never heard of them, because their contribution was glossed over at the time due to their gender.

Called ENIAC – or the Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer – the machine itself was mostly built by men. But it was programmed by a team of six women – Betty Jean Jennings Bartik, Kathleen McNulty Mauchly Antonelli, Ruth Lichterman Teitelbaum, Frances Bilas Spence, Marlyn Wescoff Meltzer, and Betty Snyder Holberton. At the time they were called, I kid you not, the “computers”. The women were all top mathematics graduates who were recruited for the important job of debugging the computer and getting it to ‘think’.

Once the machine was ready, the “Computers” had the job of teaching the men how to use it. When reporters came to write about ENIAC, most of them assumed the women were just models there to make the device look good.

The women were given a certificate of commendation from the military, but other than that, weren’t officially recognised in the project. The night ENIAC was launched, they also weren’t invited to the dinner alongside their male counterparts.

Read the full article in Science Alert

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