Every March since 1987 has been declared by Congress and the President as Women’s History Month. The time is meant to bring special focus to the lives, contributions, and achievements of women throughout history. This can include women in politics, art, or even STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math). Here at Carolina Data Recovery, we decided to share some brief history about a few women that helped take society from the abacus to the quantum computer.
Ada Lovelace (1815-1852)
Augusta Ada Byron was the daughter or poet Lord Byron and Annabella Milbanke Byron, though she never had any relationship with her writer father. Her education was an expensive, private education comprised largely of tutors and self-education. Today, she is known for her work on Charles Babbage’s Analytical Engine.
The Analytical Engine was a follow-up to Babbage’s Difference Machine and was theoretically able to fulfil general computational sequences. Utilizing mechanical parts, printing functions, and punch cards, it was supposed to be able to handle a whole array of potential computations, largely based on the punch cards input by the user.
Ada Lovelace became interested in the device in 1833 and spent a good amount of time studying its functionality. She postulated that it could potentially handle Bernoulli numbers among its potential operations and helped write much of the annotations and notes for the device, which would later be used by Alan Turing for his work in computers a hundred years later.
The programming language Ada is named in honor of her work on computers as the “world’s first computer programmer”.
Hedy Lamar (1913-2000)
Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler, or Hedy Lamar, was the Austrian born daughter of a wealthy banker. Her father paid for an elite education that included piano, dance, and more. By the time she enrolled in drama school at 16, Hedy Lamar was a polyglot. Shortly after beginning her dramatic education, she received her breakout film role, but her initial career was short lived due to a possessive husband, who was a munitions manufacturer.
Upon revitalizing her career, Hedy met two people that would reignite her inventor’s tendency. First was famed industrialist Howard Hughes, whom she dated. He gave Lamar a set of tools for her to work with, and she eventually had a workstation set up in her home. The second was composer George Antheil.
With WWII upon them, Lamar and Antheil wanted to do something to help the war effort. Utilizing their joint mechanical knowledge, his experience with radio, and her experience with munitions, they invented a radio-wave hopper that could be installed in torpedoes. The radio
signal was able to jump from frequency to frequency, minimizing the ability to be jammed. It received a patent but was never utilized in warfare. Years later, after the patent expired, the frequency hopping device would be used for various Bluetooth and GPS technologies, earning her the posthumous title as “The Mother of Wi-Fi”.
Mary Allen Wilkes (1937)
Mary Wilkes graduated from Wellesley College in 1959 with the intention to become a lawyer, her degrees being in philosophy and theology. Though she did eventually follow that passion, Wilkes spend several years working with MIT and Washington University in St. Louis as a programmer and logic designer.
Wilkes began her work in 1959 working on two IBM systems at the Lincoln Laboratory before eventually becoming a part of the Wesley Clark team developing a new computer, LINC. For LINC she was able to help with various design, simulation elements, and wrote the operations manual. By 1963 she was then brought on as an instructor who taught others the LINC system and co-authored the book “Programming the LINC” with Wesley Clark.
When the LINC group relocated to Washington University in St. Louis, Wilkes was living in her family’s home in Baltimore, Maryland, working on a LINC provided to her. In 1965 when the LINC’s memory had doubled to 2048 12-bit words, Wilkes was able to expand her work on the operating system, developing the LAP6 OS. It allowed for interactive editing in real time, had scrolling capabilities, and even allowed for interactive document and program filing. It was the first time a computer operated like the modern home computers we’re accustomed to.
The history of computing is a fascinating one. It is largely a legacy form, each generation improving upon the advancements of the one before. Sometimes the changes are incremental, sometimes quite sudden, but it is always steeped in a vast knowledge of where computing came from. And it is important to preserve that history.
Here at Carolina Data Recovery, we understand the need to preserve the information and data that are important to people. For decades Carolina Data Recovery has been successfully recovering documents, photographs, and videos from digital, magnetic, and optical media across Hard Disk Drives (HDDs), Solid State Drives (SSDs), and RAID and NAS systems. If you or anyone you know needs data recovery, we’re here to assist, including a Free Evaluation, a No-Data-No-Fee-Guarantee, and emergency service upon request.