Six Women who Defined the Digital Age
For as long as there has been technology, there have been unsung women making groundbreaking innovations that have built the digital world we now live in.
Whether it’s the work of codebreakers at Bletchley Park or modern entrepreneurs who continue to blaze a trail across digital platforms for the upcoming generation of techie women, these six women have rocked the world and ushered in a new era.
No list on computing can be complete without paying homage to this remarkably influential woman. During her lifetime she was known more for her famous father, the poet Lord Byron, than the groundbreaking work she did with Charles Babbage. Together they built the ‘Analytical Computer.’ These days she is known widely as the first computer programmer.
Sister Mary Keller
Sister Mary Keller, who took her vows as a nun before her illustrious career, was something of a prophet, who recognized the shifting paradigm towards the information age. She broke down fences where she went, being the first to study maths at the ‘men-only’ University of Dartmouth. She would then go on to become the first woman to receive a Ph.D. in computer science at the University of Wisconsin. Her lasting contribution was her work on BASIC, a key language upon which platforms are based to this day.
The multi-talented Grace Hopper, often nicknamed ‘Amazing Grace’, started her career after receiving a Ph.D. in mathematics from Yale. She was a keen supporter of the war effort in the early 1940s, rebuffing the rejections she’d receive when she tried to enlist, eventually becoming a Rear Admiral in the US Navy. “On top of this – she was also a key figure in the development of computer language,” added Valerie McClure, IT specialist at Last Minute Writing and Researchpapaersuk. She pioneered the first commercial computer, the UNIVAC I. She also created the first means to translate English into computer code.
Though she worked for a time at Microsoft, she would eventually become an integral part of its rival. Following a fine arts degree, she eventually landed a job at Apple. There, she would utilize her arts training to create some of the most innovative designs that Apple still use to this day. In particular is the unique ‘command’ key that you will still find on Macs, and the Chicago typeface displayed on iPods.
So much of technology is built around computer game design. It’s a multi-million dollar industry that goes from strength to strength every year. Back when it was in its infancy (long before the CGI laden, vast storylines and coding you find today), a lady named Carol Shaw who had grown up playing text based games rather than dolls, became one of the first female video game designers. Hired by Atari, she created Super Breakout, Video Checkers and 3D Tic-Tac-Toe. Following her success, she was hired by Activision and created the major hit River Raid in 1982. Her contribution to the games industry was finally recognized in 2017 with the Industry Icon Award in 2017.
This list would simply not be complete without making reference to the multi-award winning ‘Mother of the Internet’. Though Radia Perlman has always insisted that it was a collaborative effort to bring the world online, her contribution to the development of the world wide web cannot be understated. Natasha Johnson, a biographer at Draftbeyond and Writinity, states: “Following in the footsteps of her mother, who was also a computer programmer, she eventually created the ‘Spanning Tree Protocol’, which would would enable network bridges to identify loops in a local area network. In 2016 she was entered into the National Inventors Hall of Fame for this groundbreaking technology.”
Originally written by Marina Sanchez
Martina Sanchez is an entrepreneur and content marketing specialist at Lucky Assignments and Gum Essays. She is absorbed with article writing and is a constant contributor to her blog where she touches such topics as digital marketing, SEO tips and tricks etc.