All about the ENIAC Six


(Daniel Hollands) #1

In celebration of Ada Lovelace Day tomorrow, I wanted to write a very short piece drawing your attention to the The ENIAC Six - if Ada Lovelace was theoretical programmer, the ENIAC Six were the programmers of the first general-purpose electronic digital computer.

Inducted into the Women in Technology International Hall of Fame in 1997, the six were:

  • Kathleen Antonelli (1921–2006)
  • Jean Jennings Bartik (1924–2011)
  • Frances Snyder Holberton (1917–2001)
  • Marlyn Wescoff Meltzer (1922–2008)
  • Frances Bilas Spence (1922–2012)
  • Ruth Lichterman Teitelbaum (1924–1986)

To borrow heavily from Wikipedia:

The ENIAC project was a classified project by the US Army to construct the first all-electronic digital computer. While its hardware was primarily built by a team of men, its computational development was led by a team of six female programmers (called Computers).

Despite their importance as the original programmers of the ENIAC, the role they the programmers took on was largely downplayed at the time due to the stigma that women were not interested in technology. Photos of these women working on the computer often went without credit in newspapers at the time, and when the ENIAC was completed and unveiled to the public on February 15, 1946, the US Army failed to mention the names of the female programmers who had programmed the machine to run such sophisticated calculations. This further contributed to the perceived disconnect between women and computing.

If anyone is interested in learning more about the ENIAC, you can see one of it’s receiver units on display at the Science Museum in London. To learn more about the ENIAC Six, you can watch The Computers Documentary (once it’s available in the UK) and watch some of these videos on YouTube: