The Anniversary of ENIAC

On February 14, 1946, ENIAC – the world’s first digital electronic computer – was unveiled. ENIAC stands for Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer. It was the world’s first operational, general-purpose, electronic digital computer, developed at the Moore School of Electrical Engineering at the University of Pennsylvania. The ENIAC and the invention of the computer is considered one of the most influential and pervasive developments coming out of World War II.

The history of computing owes much to contributions of talented women. Ada Byron Lovelace is credited with first envisioning the idea of programming with her statement, “The analytical engine weaves algebraic patterns just as the Jacquard loom weaves flowers and leaves.” Six of the ENIAC programmers at the University of Pennsylvania during World War II were women who had been calculating ballistics trajectories by hand. Admiral Grace Hopper, inventor of the first computer compiler, coined the term “computer bug” and is the namesake for the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing.

Alas, women now represent only a small fraction of computer science graduates and are far from being fully represented in the world of information technology and computing. This is one reason I co-founded and serve as CEO of NCWIT. As a coalition of universities, corporations and non-profits that all feel we must do a better job of attracting women to computing, we are working on interventions across the entire educational and career pipeline, including new ideas in curriculum, outreach, recruiting and retention. We are also studying women’s participation in key innovation metrics such as IT patenting, open source, and entrepreneurship.

Check out the Engineering Pathway’s educational resources on the history of computing and women in information technology, or for curricular resources visit the Computer Science Education, Information Technology Education, or Computer Engineering Education community sites.

Cross-posted at the Engineering Pathway website.

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