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Computer, at that point, was a job title, not a machine. Long before the sisters were businesswomen, community activists, mothers or grandmothers, they were recruited by the U.S. military to do ballistics research. They worked six days a week, sometimes pulling double or triple shifts, along with dozens of other women.
The weapons trajectories they calculated were passed out to soldiers in the field and bombardiers in the air. Some of their colleagues went on to program the earliest of general-purpose computers, the ENIAC.
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The war ended in 1945, but within a couple months of arriving in Philadelphia, Bartik was hired to work on a related project — an electronic computer that could do calculations faster than any man or woman. The Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer, created by Penn scientists John Mauchly and J. Presper Eckert Jr., weighed more than 30 tons and contained about 18,000 vacuum tubes. It recognized numbers, added, subtracted, multiplied, divided and a few other basic functions.
Men had built the machine, but Bartik and her colleagues debugged every vacuum tube and learned how to make it work, she said. Early on, they demonstrated to the military brass how the computer worked, with the programmers setting the process into motion and showing how it produced an answer. They handed out its punch cards as souvenirs. They’d taught the massive machine do math that would’ve taken hours by hand.
But none of the women programmers was invited to the celebratory dinner that followed. Later, the heard they were thought of as models, placed there to show off the machine.
Rediscovering WWII’s female ‘computers’
February 08, 2011|By Jamie Gumbrecht, CNN
My Note –
How many teachers in schools across America know that some of the greatest mathematicians in their classes of students are the girls?
How many classrooms of students hold the greatest scientists and engineers that happen to be the girls in the class rather than the boys alone? How many of our educators know that as they face that class and work with those students?
Sometimes I wonder.
It was great finding this article. There are four pages to it which is a little hard to notice because the next page numbers are below some ads and rather small – but definitely take a look at all four pages. It is absolutely amazing.
and there is even more about women in the first programming languages of computers, too. We wouldn’t have the computers we have today, had it not been for the efforts of the women who participated in the process along the way.