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Love Cameron and Donna? Here Are Five IRL Female Tech Pioneers You Should Know

Despite being part of a male-dominated field, Cameron Howe and Donna Clark more than hold their own on Halt and Catch Fire. The same has been true of real-life female tech pioneers for decades, including Dona Bailey, the developer Atari’s classic 1982 game Centipede. Want to learn more about the women who left their mark on the industry and paved the way for others to do the same? Read on to learn about five other pioneers any Halt and Catch Fire fan should know.

Grace Hopper
In addition to serving the United States Navy as a Rear Admiral during World War II (and being compared to Cameron in Season 1, Episode 5), Hopper was a computer scientist and mathematics wiz who worked on the first programmable computer, the Mark I. She is also credited with originating the first compiler for a computer programming language, which subsequently paved the way for COBOL – or common business oriented language – which is still used by businesses today.

Radia Perlman
Though she holds over 100 patents, Perlman’s most notable contribution to the tech field is probably her development of the algorithm on which the spanning-tree protocol is based. For those who aren’t with the familiar with spanning-tree protocol, it’s essential in avoiding loop errors while routing network traffic and basically makes the Internet as we know it today possible.

Dr. Erna Schneider Hoover
After receiving a Ph.D. from Yale University, Hoover went on to work at Bell Laboratories for over 3 decades, where she modernized telephone communications. In effort to improve service and prevent systems from overloading on phone switching systems, Hoover created a computerized telephone switching method which allowed call center traffic to be screened and prioritized. Hoover was also honored with one of the first ever computer software patents for her contributions to the technology field.

Jean Bartik
Jean Bartik, born Betty Jean Jennings, was one of six original programmers for the Electronic Numerical Integrator And Computer (ENIAC), the first general-purpose computer that could be programmed to carry out various calculations as opposed to just one. With its gigantic structure, Jennings debugged problems by literally crawling inside the machine. She attended the first public demonstration of the ENIAC which enthralled everyone with its fast computations and flashy lights.

Edith Clarke
Clarke (no relation to Donna) studied both astronomy and mathematics which served her well later in life when she worked as a human computer, so to speak – Clarke performed calculations by hand that could easily be completed by machines today. She earned a master’s degree in Electrical Engineering from MIT – the first woman to do so at the institution – and invented a graphical calculator which engineers used to carry out equations much faster than existing methods.

Don’t miss an all-new episode of Halt and Catch Fire Sunday at 10/9c on AMC.

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