Apple celebrates Women’s History Month

How are readers celebrating Women’s History Month? We walked by the Apple Store in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida and found that they were celebrating “female creators”:

In other words, they’re celebrating the women who created the Apple II, the Macintosh, MacOS (and underlying Unix/Mach), the iPhone, iOS, Objective-C, the Swift language, etc.

How long before all of the above are attributed to nerds identifying as “female”? In Digital Apollo MIT Press, 2011), Margaret Hamilton is credited as a source, but is not described as having written any of the code. The credited engineers and programmers are Eldon Hall (chose to use integrated circuits), “Hal Laning, a mathematician and control engineer,” (the calculations, the operating system), David Hoag (gimbals/gyros and calculations upstream from them), David Hanley (Apollo Guidance Computer design with Ray Alonso, Hugh Blair-Smith (who also built the assembly language), and Albert Hopkins), Joe Shea (systems engineering), Dick Battin (lead software engineer), Jim Nevins (user interface), Tom Sheridan (user interface), Bill Tindall (system engineering, code review), Howard Sherman (user interface), Floyd Bennett (flight mechanics for the lunar landing), Allan Klumpp (lander software), Don Eyles (lander software), Donald Cheatham (lander software algorithms), Hubert Drake, Donald Bellman, and Gene Matranga (lunar lander simulator),

The book does credit women specifically for manufacturing core memory (invented by Jayla Forrester for the female-designed Whirlwind I):

Raytheon did the manufacturing in its plant in Waltham, Massachusetts. The town had a history of precision machining (the Waltham Watch Company was nearby), and drew on an industrial community familiar with weaving and textile manufacturing: ‘‘we have to build, essentially, a weaving machine,’’ Raytheon manager Ralph Ragan told the press.30 Raytheon assigned the work to older, female workers. Engineers nicknamed them ‘‘little old ladies,’’ and actually referred to them as ‘‘LOLs.’’ Core rope weaving was a specialized skill, and Raytheon paid the women to sit around and do nothing if the software ran late, so they would not be called to other projects that would degrade their currency.

Within four years of the book’s publication, history had been revised so that a late-to-the-project female-identifying individual had built all of the software. From “Photo celebrates unsung NASA software engineer Margaret Hamilton” (Caroline Seide, 2015):

The article goes on to point out “It’s not an exaggeration to say that Hamilton was directly responsible for some of NASA’s most impressive achievements.”

For those who are concerned that Florida does not keep pace with national progressive trends, a recent email from the local MIT Club:

They don’t explain their rationale for age discrimination. Why is the achievement of a “young female coder” to be celebrated while the achievement of an “old female coder” can be ignored? Nor do they explain their rationale for ignoring the achievements of young coders who identify with the other 72 non-male gender IDs that are recognized by physicians.

13 thoughts on “Apple celebrates Women’s History Month

  1. The apple stores are now just a lot of empty tables with people standing around. No need to make anything or build houses anymore. Just celebrate women/black/brown/green/spun history year.

  2. You are such a buzzkill! I was tokin’ on a sweet chunk of legal mambojambo, getting nice and mellow to celebrate Women’s History Month, and now I read that all the people who made Apple what it is today (except for the chick in the famous “1984” Macintosh ad maybe…I have flashbacks) are/were really MEN?

    Mind. Blown.

    I’m totally deflated now. I feel like someone just told me Santa Claus wasn’t real. Madness of Crowds. You can’t trust anything no more except your weed man. And sometimes not even him, if you know what I mean.

    • Oh, by the way: I got sick and tired of raising and lowering my mask here in Maskachusetts just to get high and eat nachos and Ben & Jerry’s. I cut a 1.5″ diameter hole right up front there. That way I’m still protected from COVID while I mellow out to the Allman Brothers. Wait, you’re not gonna tell me THEY were women, right?

    • Sorry if that sounds a little “out there” or glib. Seriously, I believe in giving credit where it’s due to whoever was involved, in proportion to what they accomplished, facing obstacles, etc.

      But no, I don’t smoke it. My Dad was at Lincoln Labs for IBM supporting the work. He saw the laser gyroscope that helped guide the Poseidon missile and talked regularly talked with one of the men who worked on it. He also has a piece of core memory that he kept as a memento. It’s in a box in a storage area but he told me about the effort it took for the women who “wove” the cores. They are teeny-tiny!

      But you’d have to be stoned to believe some of this other Happy Horses*** of the Day. Over and out.

  3. Those days, there is a lot about Women’s XYZ Month, but nothing, nothing about Motherhood Month. I guess mothers are irrelevant in this day and age.

  4. The Hamilton exaggeration sounds bad but it’s also typical nerd brain to write off anyone who isn’t a coder.

    Especially when it comes to a company like Apple or NeXT even the haters (especially the haters?) recognized these companies benefitted from UI and marketing innovations. Susan Kare did marketing as part of the original Mac team and at NeXT and Joanna Hoffman was part of the Max team doing icons and fonts.

    To hear some people tell it Apple would be nowhere without clever/heavy marketing….. well if that’s true give credit to the evil geniuses behind it.

    Also, see Sun Microsystems for what happens to a company when you give engineers all the credit and power.

  5. The ARM processor architecture underlying all Apple’s devices was designed by Sophie Wilson, a trans woman. And arguably the first programmer ever was Ada Augusta Lovelace, Lady Byron.

    • We had this same discussion in comments to

      ———– my response

      Fazal: but the work that this individual did on the ARM instruction set (with Steve Furber and some other white males of no interest) was done prior to any transition. So it doesn’t make sense to say that the work was done by a “trans engineer”. Liz Carmichael transitioned BEFORE she started her car company.

    • (My friends who design CPUs and GPUs in Silicon Valley (the center of banking expertise!) say that the current ARM processors are not related to whatever it was that a group of white males (one of whom became Sophie Wilson) designed. It may be that the divergence occurred in the early 1990s with the ARM6. See )

    • Uh oh, here’s something that the Ministry of Truth will need to scrub:

      “Lovelace is widely celebrated for a variety of reasons. She is variously described as a mathematical genius, as having a critical influence on the invention of the Analytical Engine, of being the first programmer, and of being a prophet of the computer age. The first two of these are unsupported by evidence of any kind and are readily disproved by the simple chronology of events. The third claim to fame (that she was the first programmer) is understandable but wrong. …” … “While it is edifying to describe her as “the first programmer” and therefore the originator of the practices and procedures of computational solution by machine, it is misleading to do so. Those familiar with the archival sources are clear that the techniques and examples in the paper were those devised by Babbage much earlier and suggested or supplied by him””

      [Though I am not sure what contribution programs for the never-built Babbage Analytical Engine might be said to have made to the modern iPhone or Macintosh. Did any of the 1930s and 1940s computing pioneers say that they were influenced by reading programs for the Analytical Engine? The Chinese had religions before Christianity. Does that automatically mean that today’s Christianity was influenced by an pre-Christian Chinese religion?]

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