In the 1940s, two men in Philadelphia built the hardware for ENIAC, the first all-electronic programmable computer, but in a forgotten chapter of computer science history, it was six women who wrote the first ENIAC software. To honor these women, who were known as “computers,” Kathy Kleiman has founded the ENIAC Programmers Project and produced a short documentary called The Computers.
“Historians covered computing as a story of hardware,” said Kleiman. “We’re actually going back to uncover the names and the work, because programming was a pink-collar profession for about the first decade. There were some men, but it was actually hugely women.”
For the record, the names of these first ENIAC coders were Frances Bilas Spence, Jean Jennings Bartik, Marlyn Wescoff Meltzer, Kathleen McNulty Mauchly Auntonelli, Frances Elizabeth Holberton and Ruth Lichterman Teitelbaum.