Category Archives: Science

The First Programmers

Mental Floss has been doing a fabulous job with this series of articles on women in tech. The piece on the ‘Refrigerator ladies’ who programmed the first electronic computer is jam-packed with interesting details. For instance:

“There was no language, no operating system, no anything,” Kleiman says. “The women had to figure out what the computer was, how to interface with it, and then break down a complicated mathematical problem into very small steps that the ENIAC could then perform.” They physically hand-wired the machine, an arduous task using switches, cables, and digit trays to route data and program pulses.

“The ENIAC was a son of a bitch to program,” Jean Jennings has said.

Katie and the Computer

Katie_and_the_Computer_1979_Creative_Computing_Press_0000

Here’s everything you ever wanted to know about computers. That is if your name is Katie and you were a kid in 1979. To wit:

“The Colonel fetches the Flower Painters from memory and rushes them onto a bus to the CPU, then to the PictureTube. A bus is a group of wires which act as a path for information to go from one part of the computer to another.”

From the bottomless Internet Archive.