Jean Bartik and ENIAC’s Stored Software

But what the women of ENIAC soon showed, and the men later came to understand, was that the programming of a computer could be just as significant as the design of its hardware.

—Walter Isaacson

Links for me to come back to later:

More on the ENIAC women pioneers by Walter Isaacson.

Shortly before she died in 2011, Jean Jennings Bartik reflected proudly on the fact that all the programmers who created the first general-purpose computer were women: “Despite our coming of age in an era when women’s career opportunities were generally quite confined, we helped initiate the era of the computer.” It happened because a lot of women back then had studied math, and their skills were in demand. There was also an irony involved: The boys with their toys thought that assembling the hardware was the most important task, and thus a man’s job. “American science and engineering was even more sexist than it is today,” Jennings said. “If the ENIAC’s administrators had known how crucial programming would be to the functioning of the electronic computer and how complex it would prove to be, they might have been more hesitant to give such an important role to women.”

Fortune

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