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unix history & women 

It makes me sad that the women who are mostly responsible for making Unix on personal computers possible aren't talked about much, because of figures like RMS & Torvalds (and whoever he argued with on usenet - Andy comes to mind) coming to dominate history.

I know shockingly little about Lynne Jolitz, despite her being pivotal to affordable Unix on the i386 being possible.

I know that there were women involved with the development of Coherent but I'd have difficulty even naming them. (seems connected that most of the early 386 Unixes were developed by family business?)

The old Bell Labs documentaries always make it seem like most of the earliest Unix users were women as well.

unix history & women 

@n Computing started as a women’s field, basically - because it was seen as a low-status admin job. I’ve seen an argument about early hacker culture as a reaction against feminine-coded neatness and orderliness in the field, too

unix history & women 

@ghost_bird Specifically 386 Unix was not interesitng in the 80s and early 90s unless you had limited staff and funds, in that case you usually can't afford to discriminate and wives, daughters, and sisters are going to be chipping in with the coding too.

unix history & women 

@n And wives, daughters, and sisters hadn’t entirely been forced out of the field by the 80s, I guess. But yes - I’m thinking of the 60s and 70s, which is a different era

unix history & women 

@n do you have any more info? i love learning about the history of unix

unix history & women 

@mjdxp what would you like to learn about?

re: unix history & women 

@n I think most know ada king or grace hopper but there were hundreds involved early on that are largly erased. It sucks :blob_sad:

re: unix history & women 

@n reminded of https://minnie.tuhs.org/pipermail/tuhs/2020-March/020664.html

> Originators of nearly half the list--pascal, struct, parts, eqn--were women, well beyond women's demographic share of computer science.

unix history & women 

@n bell labs was not special and anyone competent who worked in those positions would have made the same discoveries. The individual engineers are unimportant

re: unix history & women 

@n I’m not sure if this is the right thing to recommend, but your post helped me recall there’s a very good article about COBOL’s history and much more: “Built to Last” by Mar Hicks.

First, an interesting fragment about COBOL being blamed for someone else’s failure:

As the catastrophe unfolded, several state governments blamed it on aged, supposedly obsolete computer systems written in COBOL, […]

But then something strange happened. When scores of COBOL programmers rushed to offer their services, the state governments blaming COBOL didn’t accept the help. In fact, it turned out the states didn’t really need it to begin with. For many reasons, COBOL was an easy scapegoat in this crisis—but in reality what failed wasn’t the technology at all.

Then, how men took over a field that had been dominated by women:

During the 1960s, as computer programming increasingly came to be regarded as a science, more and more men flooded into what had previously been a field dominated by women.

At first, however, the men needed help. Looking back, we see many examples of women teaching men how to program,

I’ve found this article very interesting and worth reading. In my opinion, we just need to make sure that this knowledge is spread and preserved.

re: unix history & women 

@pfm @n for general interest in history of tech I'd recommend anything by Mar Hicks, totally different perspective to so many better known histories marhicks.com/

unix history & women 

@n

As an example of the challenge we face, even just starting to read this thread I was blanking on Lorinda Cherry's name.

Gratified to see her mentioned in the thread.

unix history & women 

@n more networking than unix per se, but here is Radia Perlman, Inventor of Spanning Tree Protocol en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radia_Pe

unix history & women 

@n

Stallman and Torvalds are reponsible for GNU/Linux, not Unix.

GNU's not UNIX - that's the shortcut of G.N.U.

But yes, there are plenty of important women in computing history, mostly in the early history (Ada Byron, Grace Hopper). After years 1980-1990 I see there are mostly men.

I think the reason because people don't know women in computer science is beacuse they only know the recent most successful marketers (Steve Jobs, Bill Gates... mostly men) and not people who really created computing (where are many man and women).

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