SWHM Guest: Cynthia Sax on How Bad A$$ Women Changed The Computing World Forever

Hi friends!!! We have the wonderful Cynthia Sax guesting with us today! 😀 It’s Women’s History Month, and Cynthia very kindly wrote post for us! It’s pretty self-explanatory, so no further intro is needed. Enjoy!

How Bad A$$ Women Changed The Computing World Forever

You’re reading this blog post today because of the brilliant women who came before us. Without their contributions, our laptops, tablets and smart phones wouldn’t exist. Women’s History Month wouldn’t be complete without discussing them.

Ada Lovelace

Ada LovelaceAugusta Ada King-Noel, Countess of Lovelace, is considered to be the world’s first computer programmer. Yep, women invented this field! We ROCK!

Ada’s mother ensured she was given an education focusing on mathematics and logic, fields she had natural abilities in. That combination changed Ada’s life and our world.

When she was a teenager, her skills in mathematics led her to meeting Charles Babbage, the ‘father of computers’. They formed a working relationship.

Between 1842 and 1843, Ada wrote what is considered to be the first computer program. While Babbage and his counterparts thought computers to be merely number-crunching machines, she also envisioned computers being used for much, much more. She was a woman far ahead of her time.

Grace Hopper

Rear Admiral Grace Brewster Murray Hopper is another pioneer in computer programming. She invented the first compiler (a compiler translates human coding language into binary, allowing humans to ‘talk’ to computers).

Grace’s bio is a study in how to overcome rejection and change the world. This total bad a$$ tried to enlist in the US Navy during World War II but was considered too old (she was 34). Instead she joined the Navy Reserves.

She recommended the development of a new programming language using English words and was told she “couldn’t do this because computers didn’t understand English.” Did that stop Grace? Heck no! She persisted for three years before getting any traction.

She then “had a running compiler and nobody would touch it. They told me computers could only do arithmetic.” Again, she persisted and that was the beginning of COBOL, a programming language still in use today.

Hedy Lamarr

Hedy LamarrHedy Lamarr might be best known as a movie star but, without her contributions to the world of computing, we wouldn’t have wireless communications today. Our phones and computers would still be attached to the wall. We’d be servants to the dreaded cord.

Hedy’s first marriage was to an extremely abusive and controlling man. Through his military contacts, she was introduced to the world of science and technology. That meshed with her own interests and aptitude.

She escaped her first husband (she wore all of the jewelry she owned to a party and then fled), and moved to Hollywood. In her spare time, she invented things. She was self-taught, had no formal training. Most of her inventions didn’t work but one significant invention was extremely successful.

At the beginning of World War II, Hedy worked with George Antheil to develop a radio guidance system for Allied torpedoes. This system couldn’t be jammed or tracked. The principles of that work were incorporated into Bluetooth technology, which in turn led to Wi-Fi, freeing us and our devices from the wall.

The ENIAC Programmers

Many of us have now heard of Katherine G. Johnson and Dorothy Vaughan, thanks to the fabulous movie, Hidden Figures. Without their contributions to computing and other areas, space exploration wouldn’t be possible.

Unfortunately, many contributions by women, including women of color, weren’t documented. Black women, for example, were some of the first ENIAC programmers. Not having programming languages, tools or manuals, they programmed the first digital computer for the US Army. Their stories are, at the moment, lost to us (there’s a project to recover them).

For every bad a$$ women we know of who has changed the computing world forever, there are many more women whose stories haven’t been told. This is why celebrations like Women’s History Month are important.

Computing Cats

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Bio: USA Today bestselling author Cynthia Sax writes SciFi, contemporary and paranormal erotic romances. Her stories have been featured in Star Magazine, Real Time With Bill Maher, and numerous best of erotic romance top ten lists.

Sign up for her dirty-joke-filled release day newsletter and visit her on the web. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, or her blog.

Did you know about these women? Ki wrote a guest post about Ada Lovelace before, if you want to read more about her. What other badass women do you know of in the tech or computer world? Or in general? We’d love to hear it! (And yes, the cat pic! <3 I asked Cynthia if she wanted to include any images and she sent me that. Isn’t it adorable?) 

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