We often see the narrative that men were the first programmers and the ones who helped change the world we live in today. What many history books skip out on are the many notable women in tech that contributed towards bringing a change in the male-dominated field of technology.
Here’s our pick of 5 famous women that changed the tech landscape and continue to inspire us.
1. Ada Lovelace
Ada Lovelace was born in London in the year 1815. Growing up her mother insisted that she be taught science and mathematics. This contributed tremendously to mold Ada into the English mathematician and writer that the world knows her by today.
Ada is also referred to as the first programmer because she had written notes that explained how the notion of specific engines could transition calculation to computation. She is one of the famous women in technology and every second Tuesday in October is known as Ada Lovelace Day to celebrate the achievements of women in STEM careers.
2. Grace Hopper
Grace Hopper was born in 1906 in metropolitan New York. She attended Yale University in 1930 and eventually received a PH. D in mathematics.
In 1943 she joined the Naval Reserve where she joined the Eckert-Mauchly Computer Corp. During her time at the Naval Reserve, she designed a compiler that translated programmers’ instructions into computer codes.
In 1957, her division developed the first English language data processing complier. After retiring from the Naval Reserve, she was recalled again to help standardize the navy’s computer languages and at the age of 79, she was known as the oldest officer in the navy before she officially retired in 1986. She has been given several awards, one of them awarded by Barack Obama as the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2016.
3. Annie Easley
Annie was born in 1933 in Birmingham, Alabama. She attended Xavier University where she majored in pharmacy for around 2 years. Shortly after finishing University, she met her husband and they moved to Cleveland.
As there was no pharmaceutical school nearby, she applied for a job at the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) and within 2 weeks she started working there. She was one of four African Americans who worked there and developed and implemented code that led to the development of the batteries used in hybrid cars. She is well known for being one of the famous women in technology for encouraging women and people of color to study and enter STEM fields.
4. Mary Keller
Mary Keller was born in and was a roman catholic nun. In 1958 she started the National Science Foundation workshop in the computer science department at Dartmouth College which at the time was an all-male school.
She teamed up with 2 other scientists to develop the BASIC computer programming language. In 1965 Mary earned her PH. D in computer science from the University of Michigan. She went on to develop a computer science department in a catholic college for women called Clarke College.
For 20 years she chaired the department where she was an advocate for women in computer science and supported working mothers by encouraging them to bring their babies to class with them. She is known as one of the famous women in technology for being the first woman to receive a PH. D in computer science and Clarke University also established the Mary Keller Computer Science Scholarship in her honor.
5. Hedy Lamarr
Born in 1914, Hedy was a famous actress. However, her talents did not stop with her success on screen. Hedy worked on various inventions, was completely self-taught, and did not receive any formal training in technology.
Her greatest invention was her Secret Communication System, a frequency hopping device, that she created with the help of George Antheil. The key purpose of this device was to set radio-guided torpedoes off course during the war, which became the basis for many modern-day inventions, such as Wifi, GPS, and Bluetooth.