TL;DR: version: If you are free after work on March 20th, get a ticket to watch Top Secret Rosies for free at the Comcast Center.
A while back my esteemed partner (with a bit of help from me) helped arrange some events to draw attention to Top Secret Rosies, a documentaty about the first female programmers of ENAIC These first programmers are nearly forgotten by history.
To make a long story short, computer use to be a job title, the title of a mathmatician that ground out the numbers bsaed on the equations given them by a math professor. Everything from stress loads, to mortor-parabola, they did the math that we assume computers do now: hand them an equation, and wait for a table of results. During WWII women (who before then were somewhat seldom hired as computers) we recruited to do top secret maths to help the war effort. A select few of those women in Philadelphia were appeneded to the ENIAC project, to help with those computations, and calculate tables to verify the computers work. Eggheads at the time figured you could just hand the (human)computers an equation, they could type it into the (digital)computer, wait a few hours, and you’d have an answer. Boy, were they wrong! So these fine women became the first programmers, debuggers, and general machine-wranglers in their efforts to coax reasonably sane results from ENIAC.
As men came home from europe after the war, these women were pushed aside. They were cropped out of publicity photos, fired/replaced by returning men, and generally forgotten. If it weren’t for some offhand comments Leanne Erickson heard during an unrelated interview, this story would be almost totally forgotten. Her documentary ‘Top Secret Rosies’ dig into the little secret history of Philadelphia and computing, and draw some attention to the very first programmers of ENIAC, who happened to be female mathmaticians.
If you like Philly, dig secret histories, or just want to celebrate some of the first programmers on the planet, reserve a free ticket to see it on March 20th (5:30 PM at the Comcast center).