Artifact Details


Allen (Frances, Fran) oral history

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Fran Allen is regarded as a pioneer in the field of optimizing compilers. Her specialty is the development of advanced compilers for program optimization and her achievements include seminal work in compilers, code optimization and parallelization.

She has developed several programming languages that have advanced the fields of computer science and optimization compiling. She helped create one of the first automatic debugging systems and, as a member of the Stretch/HARVEST project, developed an advanced code-breaking language known as Alpha.

Allen currently serves as senior technical consultant to IBM Research's Solutions and Services vice-president. In 1989, she became the first woman to be named an IBM Fellow. She was also elected president of the IBM Academy of Technology in 1995.

In the early 80's, she founded the Parallel Translation Group (PTRAN) to study compiling for parallel machines. This group was recognized as one of the top research groups in the world dealing with parallelization issues.

She began her career at a small rural high school in Peru, NY, teaching practical math to farm kids. Allen took a job at IBM in order to earn the money she needed to pay off her college loans. She had planned to work there a couple of years and then return to her first love - teaching, but at IBM, she found something she loved even more.

Allen earned her BS in 1954 from the State University of New York in Albany and her Masters three years later from the University of Michigan. She received an honorary Doctorate in Science in 1991 from the University of Alberta.




Allen, Frank, Interviewee
Kossow, Allen, Interviewer; Editor


Computer History Museum

Place of Publication

Mountain View, CA, USA




Oral history


Allen, Frances; Allen, Fran; optimizing compilers; IBM; Stretch; IBM 360

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Oral history collection

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Related Records

102701969 Allen (Frances, Fran) oral history