Between 1842 & 1843

Ada Lovelace published a translation from of an article on the Analytical Engine by an Italian engineer, Luigi Menabrea, to which Ada added extensive notes of her own. The Notes included the first published description of a stepwise sequence of operations for solving certain mathematical problems and Ada is often referred to as ‘the first programmer’.

Ada Lovelace also speculated that the Engine ‘might act upon other things besides number… the Engine might compose elaborate and scientific pieces of music of any degree of complexity or extent’. This idea that a machine could manipulate symbols in accordance with rules and that number could represent entities other than quantity mark the fundamental transition from calculation to computation.

Ada Lovelace

An engraving of Ada Lovelace, the first computer programmer.WIKI

“The Analytical Engine weaves algebraic patterns just as the Jacquard loom weaves flowers and leaves.”

Ada Lovelace


During 1947–1953

Kathleen Booth wrote the first assembly language and designed the assembler and autocode for the first computer systems at Birkbeck College, University of London..

She also helped design three different machines including the ARC (Automatic Relay Calculator), SEC (Simple Electronic Computer), and APE(X)C.

During 1945–1946

Kay McNulty, Betty Snyder, Marlyn Wescoff,
Ruth Lichterman, Betty Jennings and Fran Bilas
programmed the world’s first all-electronic digital computer–the ENIAC. With zero programming manuals or courses, these women had to figure out how the make the ENIAC work only with the help of logical diagrams.

Kay McNulty, Betty Snyder, Marlyn Wescoff, Ruth Lichterman, Betty Jennings and Fran Bilas

Computer operators with an Eniac — the world’s first programmable general-purpose computer.CREDIT

Kay McNulty, Betty Snyder, Marlyn Wescoff, Ruth Lichterman, Betty Jennings and Fran Bilas

Kay McNulty, Alyse Snyder, and Sis Stump operate the differential analyser in the basement of the Moore School of Electrical Engineering, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

“They had no books or anything to teach us how to program it.”

Marlyn Wescoff

During 1947–1953

Erna Schneider Hoover computerized telephone switching method which “revolutionized modern communication”.It prevented system overloads by monitoring call center traffic and prioritizing tasks on phone switching systems to enable more robust service during peak calling times.

Erna Schneider Hoover

Potrait of Erna Schneider Hoover

Grace Hopper

Grace Hopper in a computer room in Washington,D.C.LYNN GILBERT

In the 1950s

Grace Hopper popularized the idea of machine-independent programming languages, which led to the development of COBOL, an early high-level programming language still in use today.

During 1961–1970

Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and
Mary Jackson
formed part of the country’s space work force and helped provide NASA with the raw computing power it needed to dominate space.

Katherine Johnson calculated the trajectory for Alan Shepard. She continued to work at NASA until 1986 combining her math talent with electronic computer skills. Her calculations proved as critical to the success of the Apollo Moon landing program and the start of the Space Shuttle program, as they did to those first steps on the country’s journey into space.

Dorothy Vaughn was the head of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics’ (NACA’s) segregated West Area Computing Unit from 1949 until 1958, Vaughan was both a respected mathematician and NASA’s first African-American manager.

Mary Jackson started as a computer at the segregated West Area Computing division. She took advanced engineering classes and, in 1958, became NASA’s first black female engineer.

Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson

Mary Jackson working at the Langley Research Center.NASA

Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson

Portrait of Dorothy Vaughan

Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson

Katherine Johnson at Work.NASA

z x i s Equatorialplane Orbitalplane Nodal Point, N Perigree, P Satelliteposition, S y
Margaret Hamilton

Margaret Hamilton standing next to listings of the software she and her MIT team produced for the Apollo project.MIT MUSEUM

In the 1960s

Margaret Hamilton led a team credited with developing the on-board flight software for the Apollo space program. Another part of her team designed and developed the systems software which included the error detection and recovery software which Hamilton designed and developed. She worked to gain hands-on experience during a time when computer science courses were uncommon and software engineering courses did not exist.

Margaret Hamilton was also known as the first person to invent the term software engineer.

““There was no choice but to be pioneers.”

Margaret Hamilton

Mary Allen Wilkes

Margaret Hamilton standing next to listings of the software she and her MIT team produced for the Apollo project.MIT MUSEUM

In the 1960s

Mary Allen Wilkes designed the interactive operating system LAP6 for the LINC, one of the earliest such systems for a personal computer.

Mary Allen Wilkes was the first person ever to have a computer in their living room

old computer with LAP6 for the LINC

The LINC, in the home of Mary Allen Wilkes.MARY ALLEN WILKES & DIGIBARN

Through 1968-1981

Lynn Conway led the Mead & Conway revolution, which was a very-large-scale integration (VLSI) design revolution which resulted in a worldwide restructuring of academic education, and was paramount for the development of industries based on the application of microelectronics.

Lynn Conway

Lynn Conway

Sophie Wilson

Sophie Wilson

Through 1978-1985

Sophie Wilson designed the instruction set of ARM processor, the processor which was at the core of mobile device revolution.

Through 1973-1974

Frances Allen contributed to the theory and practice of optimizing compiler techniques that laid the foundation for modern optimizing compilers and automatic parallel execution.

Frances Allen is also the first female IBM fellow and in 2006 won the Turing Award, making her the first woman to do so.

Frances Allen

Frances Allen

Radia Perlman

Radia Perlman

In 1985

Radia Perlman invented the Spanning Tree Protocol (STP), which allows each switch in the network to figure out its place in the scheme of things.

BRIDGE102 BRIDGE103 BRIDGE104 119 LINK 108 LINK 110 LINK 109 100 LINK 106 LINK 107 120 117 118 122 121 123 114 113 112 115 116

by Radia Perlman

I think that I shall never see
a graph more lovely than a tree.

A tree whose crucial property
is loop-free connectivity.

A tree that must be sure to span
so packet can reach every LAN.

First, the root must be selected.
By ID, it is elected.

Least-cost paths from root are traced.
In the tree, these paths are placed.

A mesh is made by folks like me,
then bridges find a spanning tree.

In 1994

Barbara Liskov defined a particular definition of sub typing, the Liskov Substitution Principle for OOP.

Barbara Liskov

Barbara Liskov

Lisa Gelobter

Lisa Gelobter

in the 1990s

Lisa Gelobter worked on several pioneering Internet technologies, including Shockwave, Hulu, and the ascent of online video.

Meet the Women Pioneers of the Future

At WeAreDevelopers World Congress