Did you ever wonder where the term "computer' originated? Would it blow your mind away to learn that the first known use of the term "computer" in the 20th Century was directed to female mathematicians? Well, it blew me away!
There are so many, many heroes from World War II. So many that were not in the forefront of the war but were quietly doing their part in the war effort. Every little bit helped. Every sacrifice brought us closer to victory.
During the war, female mathematicians were recruited from all over the United States to work as computers for the U.S. Army. Their work was top secret and literally helped change the course of the war.
Many of these young women were just graduating from High School and with sheer luck were called to become a part of this secret program. They not only developed ballistics tables but also programmed the first electronic computer designed to improve Army efficiency.
Their biggest job during the war was to use mathematical calculations to figure out where a bomb or bullet would land if it was directed at a certain target. They also calculated the distance, how it was going to get there, and where it would end up. When in battle the men wouldn't have the time to figure things out, as one can imagine it was an intense environment to be in. Figuring out those marks helped soldiers know where to aim and that was crucial during battle.
Because doing the calculations by hand took such a long time, although they were effective they were introduced to a Bush Differential Analyzer. At the time in 1942 it was considered state of the art technology and only five existed in the world.
There were six female computers that were chosen to run ballistics problems on that machine. Using that machine to calculate would take them 15 minutes to figure out a 60 second shell trajectory compared to the 40 hours it took to do so by hand.
Eventually many of these females computers went on to becoming the first computer programmers in the world!
After the war, six of the original female computers were asked to learn how to work and program the ENIAC, which was constructed during the war and financed by the U.S. Army.
It began being constructed in 1943 and was completed in 1946. It was in service from 1947 to 1955 continuously. This machine was massive! Great credit goes to those early programmers who unfortunately did not get the credit they deserved by journalists, reporters, and magazines. The original photo above that was printed in a magazine about the ENIAC only include the two men above.
All of the female computers and female programmers are heroes to me because they showed themselves and the world that a woman's role is multifaceted. They showed the world that we are beautiful in other ways other than physically. They showed the world that women can fight and be brave and contribute great things to humanity. That being a wife and mother is an incredible honor and gift but that we are capable of just about anything.
I dedicate this post to those great women. Thank you for paving the way.