On ENIAC’s anniversary, a nod to its lady ‘computer systems’

When the revolutionary Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer (ENIAC) was unveiled at Penn in February 1946, ladies created the test run that wowed the media. The improvement of the world’s first computer brought about the digital age of smartphones, touchscreens, cellular devices, and electronics nowadays. But their work and that of four different girls who helped get ENIAC off the floor turned into literally erased. Archival images display males and females working at the massive device, but the articles and pics posted characteristic handiest men. After a successful demonstration at Penn’s Moore School of Electrical Engineering, the ladies weren’t invited to a celebratory dinner at Houston Hall.

Thanks to historians, filmmakers, and women in pc technology who seemed to them as function fashions, the “ENIAC Six” received recognition many years later. Kathleen McNulty Mauchly Antonelli, Jean Jennings Bartik, Frances (Betty) Snyder Holberton, Marlyn Wescoff Meltzer, Frances Bilas Spence, and Ruth Lichterman Teitelbaum were inducted into the Women in Technology International Hall of Fame in 1997. LeAnn Erickson, a Temple University professor, and documentary filmmaker, featured the ENIAC programmers in her 2010 movie, “Top Secret Rosies: The Female Computers of World War II.

The movie strains the records of the female “computers”—the term became a name for those who did calculations, no longer the machines that might replace them—who labored on categorized U.S. Army ballistics calculations at Penn throughout World War II. (The name is a play on the traditional “Rosie the Riveter” time period for girls who joined the personnel at some point of the war, regularly taking on men’s jobs.)

Some of them moved from that software to the improvement of ENIAC. A missile-trajectory calculation devised by using Bartik and Holberton was the basis for the 1946 demonstration for the press. The Philadelphia City Council specific Feb. 15 as ENIAC Day in 2011, as a part of the party across the device’s sixty-fifth anniversary. Another documentary, especially about the ENIAC programmers, “The Computers,” was launched in 2015. Erickson, a film and video production professor, stumbled into the story whilst operating on another documentary about Philadelphia’s Mount Airy community.

Twin sisters who were part of that documentary, Doris Polsky and Shirley Melvin, had been leafing via vintage photos after they started speaking about how they’d been recruited straight out of the Philadelphia High School for Girls to make calculations for the Army. With men in demand for army providers, women with an inherent ability for math had been introduced to calculate the trajectories for bullets and bombs, crucial statistics that changed into then compiled into tables and allotted to the battlefields.

“They were those who were given me started. They led me to Marlyn Mescoff, and she led me to Jean Bartik, and Jean led me to Kay McNulty Mauchly Antonelli, but Kay died before I should try this interview,” Erickson says. “It was challenging to find topics which felt like they’d a great enough memory to speak about it.” “Top Secret Rosies” can be proven on the Penn Libraries’ Education Commons to mark ENIAC Day at Penn. The unfastened event, which runs from 3 to 5 p.M, may even function other activities, consisting of on-call for sticky label printing. In the hour-long film, Bartik describes a longing to depart her tiny Missouri town, and spurning activity gives her to grow to be a math teacher as she waits for the danger of returning to Philadelphia.


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