Women and Technology in the 1980’s

The 1980’s saw the rise of the personal computer. Here are some prominent women in the field who helped to make personal computers what they are today.

Susan Kare

Susan Kare created many of the now iconic user interface elements for the original Apple Mac OS. She also went on to do the same for Microsoft Windows 3.0 and eventually serve as creative director for NeXT computing. She created many UI elements and notions that still exist today across all platforms.

For more information on Susan Kare, visit her website.
Happy Mac

Photo courtesy of Kare Prints, http://www.kareprints.com

Frances E. Allen

A pioneer in the field of optimizing compilers, Allen became the first female IBM Fellow in 1989. She also went on to become the first woman to win the Turing Award in 2006.

For additional reading about Frances Allen, see this bio on the ACM Turing Award site.

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

Roberta Williams

Williams helped to pioneer graphical adventure games for personal computers, namely with the Kings Quest series. She co-founded On-Line Systems which eventually became the game development studio Sierra.

For additional reading on Roberta Williams, see their original Sierra website.

Photo hosted on giantbomb.com

Dame Stephanie “Steve” Shirley

Shirley founded a UK software company in order to offer work opportunities to women with dependents; only 3 out of 300 programmers were male. She adopted the name “Steve” to help her in the predominantly male-centric business world.

For additional information about Dame Stephanie Shirley, see her website.

Photo courtesy of the LSE information Systems Group

Janese Swanson

Swanson co-developed the hugely successful Carmen Sandiego educational video game series for the Macintosh in the 1980’s. She went on to found Girl Tech, an company that aimed to develop products and services that encouraged younger girls to get involved with technology.

For additional reading about Janese Swanson, see this Smithsonian article.

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