Fascinating Documentary About the Forgotten Female Computer Programmers of the ENIAC Project in 1946

In 2013, Kathy Kleiman, founder of the ENIAC Programmers Project and filmmakers Jon Palfreman and Kate McMahon created an absolutely fascinating documentary about the forgotten women who first programmed the Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer (ENIAC) in 1946.

Six women (Kay McNulty, Betty Jennings, Betty Snyder, Marlyn Meltzer, Fran Bilas, and Ruth Lichterman), each of whom was part of the earliest groups of computer programmers, initiated the secret project and kept it going while men were off at war. When the men returned, the women were never given credit for the work they did. In fact, these pioneering women were once mistaken as “refrigerator ladies” because they stood in front of the computer for a photo.

In 1946 six brilliant young women programmed the first all-electronic, programmable computer, the ENIAC, a project run by the U.S. Army in Philadelphia as part of a secret World War II project. They learned to program without programming languages or tools (for none existed)—only logical diagrams. By the time they were finished, ENIAC ran a ballistics trajectory perfectly! Yet when the ENIAC was unveiled to the press and the public in 1946, the women were never introduced… and their story was lost for decades.

via Miss Cellania

Lori Dorn
Lori Dorn

Lori is a Laughing Squid Contributing Editor based in New York City who has been writing blog posts for over a decade. She also enjoys making jewelry, playing guitar, taking photos and mixing craft cocktails.