Marlyn Meltzer

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Marlyn Meltzer

Marlyn Wescoff Meltzer (1922 – December 4, 2008[1]) was one of the six original programmers of ENIAC, the first general-purpose electronic digital computer.

The other five members were Kathleen McNulty Mauchly Antonelli, Jean Jennings Bartik, Frances Snyder Holberton, Frances Spence and Ruth Lichterman Teitelbaum.[2]


Programmers Ruth Lichterman (crouching) and Marlyn Wescoff (standing) wiring the right side of the ENIAC with a new program.

Meltzer was born Marlyn Wescoff in Philadelphia and graduated from Temple University in 1942. She was hired by the Moore School of Engineering later that year to perform weather calculations, mainly because she knew how to operate an adding machine; in 1943, she was hired to perform calculations for ballistics trajectories.[3]]At the time this was accomplished by using manual desktop mechanical calculators. In 1945, she was selected to become one of the first group of ENIAC programmers. The other five ENIAC women were Kathleen McNulty, Betty Jennings, Betty Snyder, Frances Bilas and Ruth Teitelbaum.[4]


ENIAC was a huge machine full of black panels and switches, containing 17,468 vacuum tubes, 7200 crystal diodes, 1500 relays, 70,000 resistors, 10,000 capacitors and approximately 5,000,000 hand-soldered joints. It weighed more than 30 short tons, occupied 167m2 and consumed 150 kW of electricity. Its huge power requirement led to a rumor that the lights across Philadelphia would dim every time it was switched on.[5]

ENIAC was unveiled to the public on February 14, 1946, their program captured the imagination of the press and made headlines across the country.[6]

Although mentioned in Woman of the ENIAC, at the time, little recognition was attributed to the women working on the computer. The ENIAC became a very important machine during this time. The male engineers that build the machine soon became famous. The woman who ran this machine soon disappeared from history. She resigned from the team in 1947 to get married before ENIAC was relocated to the Aberdeen Proving Grounds.[3]

In 1997 Meltzer was inducted into the Women in Technology International hall of fame, along with the other original ENIAC programmers. This award was established in 1996 by WITI to recognize, honor, and promote the outstanding contributions women make to the scientific and technological communities that improve and evolve our society.

Volunteer work[edit]

Meltzer enjoyed volunteering at Shir Ami Library and Sunday school story hour. She also delivered Meals on Wheels for more than 10 years for the Greenwood House in Ewing, NJ. She was the treasurer of the Trenton/Lawrenceville chapter of Hadassah and an active member of Women for Greenwood House.

During her last four years, she had knitted more than 500 chemotherapy hats for the Susan B. Komen Foundation in Philadelphia.[7]


Meltzer died on December 7, 2008 at Yardley, Bucks County, Pennsylvania, USA.[7]


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

Her work on ENIAC and at the University of Pennsylvania was later recognized in the 2010 documentary film Top Secret Rosies: The Female "Computers" of WWII.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ ENIAC Programmers Memorials,, access date 24 July 2014
  2. ^ "WITI Hall of Fame". Featured Profile. Retrieved December 9, 2015.
  3. ^ a b IEEE Global Networl. Marlyn Meltzer. Ret. March 2014
  4. ^ W. Barkley Fritz. 1996. The Women of ENIAC Archived 2016-03-04 at the Wayback Machine. IEEE Annals of the History of Computing 18:3. pp. 13-28.
  5. ^ "Invisible Women: The Six Human Computers Behind The ENIAC". Life Hacker. 10 November 2015. Retrieved 9 December 2015.
  6. ^ "Overview". ENIAC Programmers Project. Archived from the original on 2008-12-12. Retrieved December 9, 2015.
  7. ^ a b "Marlyn Wescoff Meltzer". Find A Grave. Retrieved December 9, 2015.

External links[edit]