Timeline of women in computing

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Women pioneers in computing. Clockwise from top left: Ada Lovelace, Betty Holberton, Radia Perlman, Sue Black, Audrey Tang, Katherine Johnson.

This is a timeline of women in computing. It covers the time when women worked as "human computers" and then as programmers of physical computers. Eventually, women programmers went on to write software, develop Internet technologies and other types of programming. Women have also been involved in computer science, various related types of engineering and computer hardware.

18th century[edit]

1757[edit]

19th century[edit]

1842[edit]

1849[edit]

1875[edit]

1893[edit]

20th century[edit]

1916[edit]

1918[edit]

1920[edit]

1921[edit]

  • United StatesEdith Clarke files a patent for a graphical calculator for problem solving electric power line transmission problems.[14]

1926[edit]

  • GermanyGrete Hermann published the foundational paper for computerized algebra. It was her doctoral thesis, titled "The Question of Finitely Many Steps in Polynomial Ideal Theory", and published in Mathematische Annalen.[15]

1935[edit]

1939[edit]

1940[edit]

  • United StatesAmerican women were recruited to do ballistics calculations and program computers during WWII. Around 1943–1945, these women "computers" used a differential analyzer in the basement of the Moore School of Electrical Engineering to speed up their calculations, though the machine required a mechanic to be totally accurate and the women often rechecked the calculations by hand.[18] Phyllis Fox ran a differential analyzer single-handedly, with differential equations are her program specification.

1941[edit]

1942[edit]

1943[edit]

Jean Bartik and Frances Spence setting up the ENIAC.
Jean Bartik and Frances Spence setting up the ENIAC.

1945[edit]

1946[edit]

1947[edit]

  • United StatesIrma Wyman worked on a missile guidance project at the Willow Run Research Center. To calculate trajectory, they used mechanical calculators. In 1947–48, she visited the U.S. Naval Proving Ground where Grace Hopper was working on similar problems and discovered they were using a prototype of a programmable Mark II computer.[29]

1948[edit]

1949[edit]

1950[edit]

  • United StatesIda Rhodes was one of the pioneers in the analysis of systems of programming. She co-designed the C-10 language in the early 1950s for the UNIVAC I – a computer system that was used to calculate the census.[34]
  • United KingdomKathleen Booth creates Assembly Language.[35]

1951[edit]

1952[edit]

  • United KingdomMary Coombs was one of the first programmers on, and was the first female programmer on LEO, the first business computer. She went on to work on LEO II and LEO III.[37]
  • HungaryHungarian-born Klara Dan von Neumann pioneers the programming of MANIAC I.[38]
  • CanadaCanadian, Beatrice Worsley, completes her doctorate in computer science, becoming the first woman to earn that degree.[39]

1954[edit]

1955[edit]

1958[edit]

1959[edit]

  • United StatesMary K. Hawes convenes a meeting to discuss specifications for a business programming language.[14] This would lead to the creation of COBOL.[14]

1961[edit]

1962[edit]

  • United StatesJean E. Sammet developed the FORMAC programming language. She was also the first to write extensively about the history and categorization of programming languages in 1969, and became the first female president of the Association for Computing Machinery in 1974.[47]
  • United KingdomDame Stephanie "Steve" Shirley founded the UK software company F.I. She was concerned with creating work opportunities for women with dependents, and predominantly employed women, only 3 out of 300-odd programmers were male, until that became illegal. She adopted the name "Steve" to help her in the male-dominated business world. From 1989 to 1990, she was president of the British Computer Society. In 1985, she was awarded a Recognition of Information Technology Award.[48]

1964[edit]

1965[edit]

  • United StatesMary Allen Wilkes was the first person to use a computer in a private home (in 1965) and the first developer of an operating system (LAP) for the first minicomputer (LINC).[51]
  • United StatesSister Mary Kenneth Keller became the first American woman to earn a Ph.D. in Computer Science in 1965.[52] Her thesis was titled "Inductive Inference on Computer Generated Patterns."[53]

1966[edit]

1968[edit]

  • FranceVera Molnár is one of the pioneers of computer and algorithmic arts. In 1968 she began working with computers, where she began to create algorithmic drawings based on simple geometric shapes geometrical themes.

1969[edit]

1970[edit]

1971[edit]

  • United StatesErna Schneider Hoover is an American mathematician notable for inventing a computerized telephone switching method which developed modern communication according to several reports.[60] At Bell Laboratories, where she worked for over 32 years, Hoover was described as an important pioneer for women in the field of computer technology.[61]
  • United StatesMargaret Burnett became the first woman software developer ever hired by Procter & Gamble/Ivorydale, a 13,000-employee complex that included their R&D center. Her position as a software developer also made her the first woman ever hired into a management-level position there.

1972[edit]

1973[edit]

1974[edit]

  • United StatesElizabeth Feinler and her team defined a simple text file format for Internet host names.[69] The list evolved into the Domain Name System and her group became the naming authority for the top-level domains of .mil, .gov, .edu, .org, and .com.

1975[edit]

1976[edit]

  • HungaryRózsa Péter publishes Recursive Functions in Computer Theory, a topic she had been working on since the 1950s.[14]

1978[edit]

1979[edit]

1980[edit]

1982[edit]

1983[edit]

  • United StatesJanese Swanson (with others) developed the first of the Carmen Sandiego games. She went on to found Girl Tech. Girl Tech develops products and services that encourage girls to use new technologies, such as the Internet and video games.[83]

1984[edit]

1985[edit]

1986[edit]

1987[edit]

1988[edit]

1989[edit]

1990[edit]

  • United StatesRuzena Bajcsy becomes the first woman to chair the computer and information science department at the University of Pennsylvania.[77]

1992[edit]

  • United StatesDonna Dubinsky CEO and co-founder of Palm, Inc., co-founder of Handspring, co-founder of Numenta, Harvard Business School's Alumni Achievement Award winner for "introducing the first successful personal digital assistant (PDA) and who is now developing a computer memory system modeled after the human brain".[99]
  • United StatesNancy Rhine and Ellen Pack co-found the first online space targeting women, Women's WIRE.[100][101]
  • United StatesCarol Bartz becomes the CEO of Autodesk.[102]

1993[edit]

1994[edit]

1995[edit]

1996[edit]

1997[edit]

1998[edit]

1999[edit]

21st century[edit]

Computer scientist Montse Maritxalar of the University of the Basque Country in 2008.

2000[edit]

2001[edit]

  • JapanNoriko H. Arai started developing NetCommons which is used for content management at over 3,500 educational institutions.[117]

2003[edit]

2004[edit]

2005[edit]

2006[edit]

2007[edit]

2008[edit]

2009[edit]

2010[edit]

2011[edit]

PyLadies of Montreal at a 2015 GitHub party.
PyLadies of Montreal at a 2015 GitHub party.

2012[edit]

2013[edit]

2014[edit]

2015[edit]

2016[edit]

Regina Honu with a classroom of students learning to code.
Regina Honu with a classroom of students learning to code.

2017[edit]

2018[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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