Mother's Day is coming soon, which means you are probably ordering flowers online, Skyping on your phone and sharing videos back and forth.
So as we indulge in these moments of IT-fueled connectivity, let's take a moment and thank the real mothers of invention who helped launch our IT-centric world.
Without these women, and thousands of others past and present, we would not have the modern world we have today.
Ada, Countess Lovelace (1815-1852) may be overshadowed in popular culture and literary circles by her father Lord Byron. But Ada is often credited with the first algorithm intended to be performed by a machine and is therefore regarded as the first computer programmer. The ADA programming language is named for her. Without Countess Lovelace, this post wouldn’t exist (no laptop to type it, no server to host it, no Internet to provide it.)
Rear Admiral Grace Hopper (1906-1992) invented the first computer programming language compiler in 1952. Before compilers, early software was written in assembly languages, which were specific to each hardware. Compilers allow portability across multiple hardware platforms. Without “Amazing Grace,” Angry Birds wouldn’t play the same on your iPhone as your coworker’s Android.
Adele Goldberg (1945, and no not that Adele, her full name is Adele Laurie Blue Adkins) was one of seven programmers who created the first object-oriented programming language and the base of graphical user interface. Do you even remember DOS? Do you use a scripting tool or command prompt or shell? In the olden days, that’s all there was. For users, GUIs are amazing. For example, it allows my Gram to send email. Scripts, prompts and shells, however, are experiencing a huge resurgence because of their ability to automate processes and reduce manual tasks.
Anita Borg (1949-2003 and no she’s not part of the collective) is best known for advocating women in technology. With a Ph.D. in computer science she focused on fault tolerant Unix operating systems. I think we can all appreciate fault tolerance. When your computer crashes, as annoying as that is, it generally comes back with a reboot without destroying your existing saved data. Hardware faults, well, that’s a topic for another time. She founded the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing in 1994 and the Institute for Women and Technology in 1997, now the Anita Borg Institute for Women in Technology.
The best news this Mother's Day is that the role of women in technology is only increasing. Visit some of these noteworthy organizations, empowering women in IT:
Ada Developers Academy, Seattle, is a tuition free one-year software development school for women.
Grace Hopper Academy, New York City
Anita Borg Institute for Women in Technology, Palo Alto
Girls Who Code