One of the first six programmers ("computers") in the world.
Selected in 1945 by the U.S. Army to program the ENIAC computer.
Designed control console for UNIVAC I and UNIVAC instruction code.
Chaired the committee that established standards for the Common Business Oriented Language (COBOL).
Inducted into the WITI Hall of Fame June 5, 1997.
What was your first job and what did you learn from it?
Statistical Department of Farm Journal Magazine.
I conducted surveys of what farm people buy, by brand. Along came the war and I wanted to do my effort. I quit my job and became a "computer." A GS-3 with a salary of $1400 a year after making $15 a week. Mathematicians were getting $1600. I bought a fur coat, got my first dark glasses and a watch.
I learned that people make mistakes in key punching cards and that influenced the design of the first key punch machine.
What are you most proud of?
The design of the instruction code of UNIVAC 1 and the code called C-10. I was in engineering in those days and I had just come from programming the ENIAC. That code was mostly designed at night while I was laying awake. My daughter said it was a form of psychology. I always stayed in the background and got most things done without people knowing that.
I had to learn to speak out and it effects me today. We have sessions at the nursing home and I speak up and they all sit there.
Who is your hero, mentor or person you most admire and why?
My father was my hero. In our house, boys and girls were the same.
He taught at Ben Franklin High School because of the observatory. He was an astronomer interested in sun spots - atomic explosions on the sun. He told me after the war he was not allowed to use the word atomic. It was a no-no. He was so liberal they almost made him quit teaching because of team teaching.
He and my grandfather used to talk to me about things that I didn't understand at all like Edison having 1100 patents and a company of engineers and he took all the credit. That affected me all my life.
What advice would you give to young women who want to enter your field?
It's very important to tell children to get the best education they can as early as they can and keep it up.