Of all the computer books you’ve read, and all the inventors of programming languages you know, how many of them are women? Even if you google the top programmers, you’ll rarely find a woman’s name listed among the top ones. However, women made major contributions for the internet to kick-start. So today, when the World Wide Web is completing 30 years, we bring to you, a list of prominent female internet pioneers.

Grace Hopper (December 9, 1906 – January 1, 1992)

6 Grace Hopper
Grace Hopper

One of the first programmers of the Harvard Mark 1 Computer, Grace Brewster Murray Hopper was an American computer scientist and a Navy rear admiral. She was a pioneer of computer programming and always dreamt of a programming language in English. This led to the development of COBOL (Common Business Oriented Language), a computer programming language dealing with the business, finance and administrative matters.

Contributions and Achievements

  • She was a member of the team developing UNIVAC, the first known large-scale electronic computer to be in the market in 1950, and was more competitive at processing information than the Mark I.
  • She was the one to popularise machine-independent programming languages.
  • She was also referred to as the  “Amazing Grace” considering her performance at the naval rank.
  • Interestingly,  The U.S. Navy Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Hopper was named after her. Also, the  Cray XE6 “Hopper” supercomputer, at the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center ( NERSC), US government, is named after her.
  • She developed the standards used for the testing of the computer system and its components, especially for the early computer languages like FORTRAN and COBOL.

Ada Lovelace (10 December 1815 – 27 November 1852)

3 Ada Lovelace
Ada Lovelace

Known for her work on Charles Babbage proposed mechanical general purpose computer, the Analytical Engine Augusta Ada King, Countess of Lovelace, was an English Mathematician and Writer. She was the first person to recognize that machines can work beyond calculations too and published an algorithm too, that could carry out such operations.

Contributions And Achievements

  • Being bright in mathematics, she could foster her working relationship and friendship with Charles Babbage, known as the father of computers. Being impressed by her intellect and Analytical skills, Babbage used to call her, “The Enchantress Of Numbers.
  • In her notes on Charles Babbage’s Engine, she published the first ever algorithm, specifically tailored for implementation on computer machines and therefore, she is known as the First Computer Programmer.

Betty Holberton  (March 7, 1917 – December 8, 2001)

7 Betty Holberton
Betty Holberton

Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1917, Betty Holberton worked as a “computor” at the Moore School of Engineering during the First World War.

Contributions And Achievements

  • She was one of the six programmers of ENIAC. She was also the only one of them to receive the Augusta Ada Lovelace Award, the highest award given by women in computing.
  • According to IEEE, the sort-merge generator developed by her, inspired the first ideas on compilation. She received the IEEE Computer Pioneer Award for the same.
  • She was inducted into the Women In Technology International Hall Of Fame, along with other original ENIAC programmers.

Jean Bartik (December 27, 1924 – March 23, 2011)

Jean Bartik
Jean Bartik

Born in Gentry County, Missouri  in 1924, She was one of the original programmers for the ENIAC computer. After her work on ENIAC, she also went on to work on BINAC and UNIVAC.

Contributions And Achievements

  • Bartik was inducted in the International Hall Of Fame for Women in Technology in 1997.
  • She also served as a fellow in Computer History Museum (CHM). The CHM Fellows are exceptional men and women ‘whose ideas have changed the world and  affected nearly every human alive today’.
  • In 2008, she received the Computer Pioneer Award by IEEE.
  • She also received the prestigious Korenman Award from the Multinational Center for Development of Women in Technology (2009).

Frances V Spence ( March 2, 1922 – July 18, 2012)

Frances V. Spence
Frances V. Spence

Born in Philadelphia in 1922, Frances Spence was one of the six original programmers of ENIAC. She was a part of the team of 80 women, hired by the Moore School Of Engineering in collaboration with the US Army during World War II.

Contributions and Achievements

  • In 1997, she was inducted into the Women in Technology International Hall Of Fame. Her work in ENIAC, paved way for future electronic computers and kick-started electronic computing.
  • She and her close friend and colleague, Kathleen Antonelli (née McNulty), went on to program the first digital computer program together, paving way for Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics (STEM).

Read More:Internet A Boon For Women; Let’s Ensure Safety

Anushika Srivastava is an Intern with SheThePeople.Tv

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