Frances Spence

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Programmers Betty Jean Jennings (right) and Fran Bilas (left) operate the ENIAC's main control panel. (U. S. Army Photo)

Frances Spence (March 2, 1922 - July 18, 2012[1]) was one of the original programmers for the ENIAC computer.

She was born Frances Bilas in Philadelphia in 1922. She attended Temple University but then was awarded a scholarship to Chestnut Hill College. She majored in mathematics with a minor in physics and graduated in 1942. While there, she met Kathleen McNulty, who also later became an ENIAC programmer. Although one of the original programmers of the ENIAC, her role as well as the other woman contributors were downplayed, due to the stigma that woman didn't like technology. McNulty and Spence were hired by the Moore School of Engineering to compute ballistics trajectories. Both were selected to become part of the first group of programmers for the ENIAC, which was designed to perform the same calculations. In 1947, she married Homer Spence, an Army electrical engineer from the Aberdeen Proving Grounds who had been assigned to the ENIAC project and later became head of the Computer Research Branch. Shortly after that, she resigned to raise a family.

In 1997 she was inducted into the Women in Technology International Hall of Fame,[2] along with the other original ENIAC programmers

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  1. ^ "Frances B. Spence". genealogybank. Retrieved 1 December 2013. 
  2. ^ "WITI Hall of Fame". WITI - Women in Technology International. WITI - Women in Technology International. Retrieved 27 October 2013. 

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