When we think of the modern computer, it’s rare that we equate those processing machines with anything deeply human. Yet, not so long ago, we depended on “human computers” for our most complex calculations!

These human computers were not only incredible mathematicians, they were also deeply influential in developing the computer as we know it today.

So, why don’t we ever hear much about these human computers and their massive contributions to modern technology? Well, a lot of that has to do with the fact that they were women.

Today, we are going to explore the history of one of the earliest computers, and introduce you an absolute pioneer in her field, Jean Bartik.

Defying the conventions of her time, Bartik used her mathematical acumen to become a human computer. Eventually she become one of a few elite programmers who helped program and develop one of the first general purpose computers, laying the foundations for modern programming.

To introduce us to this little-celebrated part of history, we turn to the wonderful YouTube Channel The Good Stuff.

Sometimes we forget that world-changing trajectories are very often begun in the quiet corners of history. In our efforts to find the “best story” we neglect to acknowledge the years of un-flashy, hard work that lead to great success.

All too often we also neglect the accomplishments of women and minorities in our retelling of history. In doing so, we remove important heroes from the past that could inspire generations of thought leaders from diverse backgrounds.

We are fortunate to live in a time where these kinds of stories, once forgotten or condensed to a sentence in the history books, are being told and celebrated.

One of our greatest assets for our collective future is the diversity of perspectives that can now be brought to the table. The more we encourage people from every corner of the globe to participate in the innovations that will shape the future, and the more we make sure their stories are told, the more inclusive and widely serving we can be!

 

Stay beautiful & keep laughing!

-Liesl

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Notes:

  1. “The First Computers Were Human (and Mostly Women).” YouTube. The Good Stuff, 16 June 2017. Web. 22 July 2017. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eE69LKO4dCQ>.

Liesl Ulrich-Verderber

COO Ever Widening Circles

Liesl is a camera-toting traveler, a global story seeker, and an aspiring—but more often floundering—yoga lover. She can be found on Instagram @Liesl.UV