we've partnered with ThinkGeek to give away a few fun, geeky prizes. Here's how it works: We'll give you a few trivia tidbits of interest, and then close with a trivia question that we hope is a brain-teaser.We want to extend a big thank you to our loyal readers and community at ReadWriteWeb. To do so,
Dig deep into the recesses of your brain (or your favorite search engine), and answer via the comments on this post. The best answer, according to RWW staff, wins the prize of the day, kindly donated by ThinkGeek.
The Prize: Everything is Better with Bacon
What better way to celebrate the Internet than with a talking bacon plush toy. For the bacon enthusiast that has everything... we bet you don't have one of these, at least not yet. You can give it your child, or display it proudly at your workplace to let your co-workers bask in the glow of your love of bacon.
Yes, it's extremely silly. What better way to reward a command of trivia? The theme today? Women in computing.
IT is heavily skewed towards men, but it hasn't always been that way. In fact, the first all-electronic, digital computer was the ENIAC, a monster of a machine that was designed to calculate ballistics trajectories.
Kay Antonelli, Jean Bartik, Betty Holberton, Marlyn Meltzer, Frances Spence, and Ruth Teitelbaum were the six "computers" chosen to work with the ENIAC by the Army. Prior to ENIAC, the team were working on calculating trajectories by hand. Today we tell people to Read The Fine Manual (RTFM) but that wasn't an option for the first team (Meltzer and Teitelbaum). The ENIAC may have been a marvel of modern (at the time) engineering, but all the ENIAC team had to work with were diagrams to figure out how to make the thing work.
On the Navy side, we can thank Admiral Grace Murray Hopper for several contributions to the field of computer science, not least of which coining the term "bug."
Hopper earned a degree in mathematics from Vassar in 1928, and earned a Ph.D. from Yale in 1934. She taught mathematics at Vassar until 1943, when she resigned to enlist in the Navy. She was assigned to the Bureau of Ordnance Computation Project at Harvard University, and worked with the Mark I "electromechanical computing machine." She continued her work through the end of the war, and then joined Harvard as a research fellow.
Hopper joined Eckert-Mauchly Corporation in 1949, which was a company founded by people who built the ENIAC. In 1953, Hopper invented the first compiler in the hopes that "the programmer may return to being a mathematician." We're not quite sure how well that worked out, but Hopper's invention was a major leap forward. According to Wikipedia, Hopper also had a hand in the development of COBOL.
Mary Allen Wilkes
Mary Allen Wilkes, who worked in MIT's Lincoln Laboratory from 1959 through 1963, is notable for a few achievements. First, Wilkes is known for developing the "assembler-linker" model that is used by modern compilers. She's also the inventor of the first operating system (LAP) for the LINC computer.
But where Wilkes did her computing is almost as noteworthy as her other contributions: She's arguably one of the first people to use a home computer, which she built.
Alas, computing was not her final destination – Wilkes went on to become an attorney in Cambridge, Mass.
Ada Lovelace, or Augusta Ada King the Countess of Lovelace, is widely acknowledged as the world's first computer programmer. She was born in 1815, long before computers were a household items.
Many people can thank their parents for instilling them with an interest in computers, but Lovelace's father was not a computer jockey. In fact, he's notable for a different reason altogether. So here's your trivia challenge: who was Lovelace's father, and what was he famous for?
Submit your answer in the comments to this post, and we'll announce the winner tomorrow. Good luck!
Update: Congratulations to user "veryedgy," who submitted the best answer and won the talking bacon plush toy. Stay tuned the rest of the week for more trivia and more chances to win.