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Radia Perlman, "Mother of the Internet"

Famous women in technology

March 13, 2017

By Katherine Kozelski

Susan Kare

I've always cared more about having work that people are using out in the world than the attribution.”  

Iconic graphic designer best known for the Happy Mac symbol, Kare has worked for Apple, Macintosh and Facebook. Kare played an integral role in helping the Mac computer feel more like a person rather than a machine.

Visit Kare’s iconic designs.

Grace Hopper

“To me programming is more than an important practical art. It is also a gigantic undertaking in the foundations of knowledge.”   

Known as the Queen of Software, Grace Hopper helped created some of the earliest programming languages, including COBOL.

Learn more about Hopper’s legacy.

Ada Lovelace

Understand well as I may, my comprehension can only be an infinitesimal fraction of all I want to understand.”  

Lovelace has been referred to as “prophet of the computer age” and wrote what is recognized as the first algorithm. Certainly she was the first to express the potential for computers outside math uses.

Read 10 Things You May Not Know About Ada Lovelace.

Radia Perlman

“The internet was not invented by any individual. I did indeed make some fundamental contributions to the underlying infrastructure, but no single technology really caused the internet to succeed.”  

Network engineer Radia Perlman, who is sometimes referred to as the Mother of the Internet, is most recognized for her contributions to Ethernet technology. For those millennial and Gen Z readers who may not know, find out more about Ethernet here.

Read the Atlantic’s great piece, Radia Perlman: Don't Call Me the Mother of the Internet.

The ENIAC "computers"

I had a fantastic life. Everything I did was the beginning of something new.”    

Betty Jean Jennings Bartik, Kathleen McNulty, Mauchly Antonelli, Ruth Lichterman Teitelbaum, Frances Bilas Spence, Marlyn Wescoff Meltzer and Frances Snyder Holberton helped build the world’s first general purpose computer operational during World War II. Given no instructions and dismissed as “just programmers,” these mathematicians showed a true pioneering spirit, figuring out how to program a computer through experimentation and logic.

You can read more about the brilliant ENIAC programmers at WITI.  

Related: Can IT fix its gender problems?

Blog image of Radia Perlman: Credit to Jalisco Campus Party; under a Creative Commons attribution license

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