Artifact Details

Title

Bartik, Jean oral history

Catalog Number

102658322

Type

Text

Date

2008-07-01

Contributor

Bartik, Jean, Interviewee
Hendrie, Gardner, Interviewer; Cameraperson

Publisher

Computer History Museum

Place of Publication

Oaklyn, New Jersey

Identifying Numbers

Other number OHP 088

Extent

64 p.

Description

Jean Bartik reviews her life and career with particular emphasis on her time as an ENIAC programmer. She discusses her work with J. Pres Eckert, John Mauchly, John von Neumann and Herman Goldstine, and discusses some of the ENIAC myths.

Jean Bartik (b. December 27, 1924, d. March 23, 2011) is one of the original six programmers for the ENIAC computer and thus one of the first computer programmers in the world.

Born Betty Jean Jennings in Missouri, she attended Northwest Missouri State Teachers College, receiving her BS in Mathematics. Bartik earned an MS in English from the University of Pennsylvania and an Honorary Dr. of science from Northwest Missouri State University.

In 1945, she was hired to compute ballistics firing tables at the Army's Ballistics Research Labs as one of eighty "computers," - people, usually women, hired to calculate ballistics trajectories (differential calculus equations) by hand.

Also in 1945, a novel electronic machine to compute firing tables--called ENIAC--was completed. ENIAC was over 700 square feet in size, had 18,000 vacuum tubes, and weighed 30 tons.

As one of six female engineers selected to work on the ENIAC, they had no programming manuals or classes; Bartik and the team taught themselves ENIAC's operation from its logical and electrical block diagrams, and then figured out how to program it. They wrote the program and placed it on the ENIAC using a challenging physical interface, which had hundreds of wires and 3,000 switches.

In 1947, Bartik became part of a group charged with converting the ENIAC into a stored program computer, a major milestone that made it easier to use since problem set-up time dropped from weeks to hours as a result. She also went on to contribute to the development of the BINAC and UNIVAC I computers.

Bartik became an editor for Auerbach Publishers, an early publisher in high tech sector. In 1981, she joined Data Decisions (a Ziff Davis Company) as a Senior Editor for Communications Services.

She was inducted into the Hall of Fame Women in Technology International, along with the other original ENIAC programmers. In 2001, her Alma Mater renamed its computer museum in her honor. Bartik has been honored by the Army Research Labs and the University of Pennsylvania.

Category

Transcription

Subject

Fellow Award Honoree; ENIAC (Computer); ENIAC Women; ENIAC Programmers; Eckert, J. Presper, Jr.; Mauchly, John; Mauchly-Antonelli, Kay; Goldstine, Herman; von Neumann, John, 1903--1957

Collection Title

Oral Histories Online

Lot Number

X4967.2009