Betty Jean Jennings Bartik, one of the first women in the IT industry, has passed away at the age of 86. Bartik was on the team that programmed and de-bugged the first general-purpose computer, the ENIAC, or Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer.
She was one of the female mathematicians, known as “computers,” recruited by the United States military during World War II to test ballistics. They soon moved into the electronics program.
Jennings Bartik was born in December of 1924 and was raised on a farm near Stanberry in Missouri. After high school, she attended Northwest Missouri State Teachers College, now Northwest Missouri State University where she was the only female Math major at the time and which now has a computer museum named in her honor. She graduated in 1945.
ENIAC began in July of 1943, in secret, at the University of Pennsylvania’s engineering school under the code name Project PX. Jennings Bartik was brought into the ENIAC project in the fall of 1945. The computer came on line in February of 1946, having cost $6 million in today’s currency. It weighed 27 tons and contained almost 18,000 vacuum tubes.
Jennings Bartik later went on to program the BINAC and UNIVAC,
Here’s the thing. The reason you can read this on your playing card-sized handheld goes straight back to ENIAC and women like Betty Jean Jennings Bartik. Your grandma invented the computer. Deal with it.
Hrmmm. Says here women are not as good as men at mathematics. Well, there’s a head-scratcher for you.