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March 14, 2023 By Melissa Beck

Five women who changed technology

Women's history month - Celebrating tech trailblazers

There are countless women who have made outstanding contributions to the field of Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM). In honor of Women’s History Month we are taking a look at five women who significantly impacted the tech world and helped pave the way for future generations.

Ada Lovelace: the first computer programmer

Ada Lovelace

Ada was a British mathematician and considered the world’s first computer programmer. She partnered with fellow mathematician Charles Babbage to write technical documentation on his concept of the ‘Analytical Engine’ which was never finished but had all the components of a modern computer. Her article, “Sketch of the Analytical Engine, with Notes from the Translator”, became the inspiration for Alan Turing to develop the first modern computer in the 1940s. Fun fact: Ada was the daughter of the famous poet Lord Byron.

Hedy Lamarr: inventor of WiFi, GPS and Bluetooth

Hedy Lamarr

More famously known as an actress during the golden age of Hollywood in movies, Larmarr was also a self-taught technologist working on various inventions including her Secret Communication System, a frequency hopping device, that she created with the help of George Antheil. The primary purpose of this device was to set radio-guided torpedoes off course during the war and is the foundation for many modern-day technologies, such as WiFi, GPS, and Bluetooth.

Mary Wilkes: the first home computer user

Mary Wilkes

Mary was a computer programmer who worked with computers such as IBM 709 and IBM 704 during her time at the MIT Lincoln Laboratory. She was assigned to the creation of the LINC, the first interactive personal computer where she designed and wrote the system software as well as the interactive operating system. Wilkes is also known to be the first person to ever have a PC in their home. Fun fact: Wilkes left the technology field in 1972 to attend the Harvard Law School where she practiced as a trial lawyer for many years.

Katherine Johnson: the first African-American NASA scientist

Katherine Johnson

If you’ve ever seen the movie “Hidden Figures” then chances are you’ve heard of Katherine Johnson. She was one of the first African-American mathematicians to work as a NASA scientist and whose calculations of orbital mechanics were critical to the success of the first U.S. space flights crewed by the likes of John Glenn and Alan Shepard. Katherine spent 33 years at NASA where she earned a reputation for mastering complex manual calculations and helped pioneer the use of computers to perform the tasks.

Radia Perlman: the Mother of the Internet

Radia Perlman

Radia is an American computer programmer and network engineer. Nicknamed “Mother of the Internet”, Radia’s invention of the algorithm behind the Spanning Tree Protocol (STP), was instrumental in making today's internet possible. Her work made a huge impact on the way networks self-organize and move data, and put the basic rules of internet traffic in place. Fun fact: Radia is still a computer programmer and engineer for Dell EMC.

At Sumo Logic diversity, equity inclusion and belonging (DEIB) are part of the company's DNA. Learn more about these initiatives and join our team! Check out our current openings.

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Melissa Beck

Melissa Beck

Sr. Director of Global Communications

Melissa is a strategic communications professional with 20+ years of experience developing and scaling global communications and influencer programs. Currently, she leads global communications for Sumo Logic focusing on corporate thought leadership, customer advocacy, employee communications and social media. In addition, she runs Sumo Logic's Customer Advisory Board.

More posts by Melissa Beck.

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