The International Day of Women and Girls in Science, organized this Sunday, February 11, 2024, is an opportunity to look back at some of the most significant technological and computer inventions that we owe to female pioneers of genius, who sometimes remain unknown to the general public.
The ancestor of the computer
The English mathematician There’s Lovelace is a pioneer in the history of computing since she participated in the development of what can be considered the very first computer, in the 19th century, by working on Charles Babbage’s analytical machine. It is in fact a programmable calculating machine. She is said to have written the very first computer program in history, published in 1843. The computer language Ada, which appeared in the early 1980s, is obviously a tribute.
The journey ofHedy Lamarr is one of a kind. The American actress of Austrian origin, femme fatale in cinema, participated in the development during the Second World War of a completely new communication system making it possible to guide torpedoes remotely using radio frequencies. Based on a signal that is very difficult for the enemy to intercept, the principles of this technology are still used today in encrypted military transmissions, but also in consumer technologies such as GPS, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.
Mathematician and physicist, the American Grace Hopper helped create the first computer software. In 1953, she invented a compiler, a program for translating human instructions into computer source code. This has been designed to be used by companies for automatic invoicing and personnel register. For the record, it is even the origin of the term “bug” which commonly refers to a computer malfunction.
And the Apollo program
In the American conquest of space, the computer scientist Margaret Hamilton played a considerable role, writing all the computer code for the Apollo space program intended to put man on the Moon. She worked on software dedicated to navigation and the moon landing of the various modules sent by NASA. They notably helped to anticipate possible breakdowns and to land and take off again without incident.
Each year, the International Day of Women and Girls in Science is an opportunity to raise awareness of the essential role of women in the scientific and technological community, and to call for it to be strengthened by creating vocations.