Women and Technology in the 1970s

recording history #2-lillian schwartz

Above is artist Lillian Schwartz during the 1970s. Schwartz is considered a pioneer in the field of computer-generated art. Schwartz worked on what is known today as graphics, animation, special effects, multimedia, and more. For more information on Schwartz and her work visit her website with her biography and list of projects.

This photo was found posted in the section PORT of the site portlandart.net An exhibit in in Portland during 2011 featured some of Schwartz’s work.



Recording history #2-dishwasher

This advertisement comes from the 1970s and shows a woman as a decoration next to a dishwasher, rather than interacting with the appliance. This ad focuses on the fact that the appliances can now come in multiple colors. For more information on the household/technology relationship in the 20th century read this Association for Consumer Research report.

This ad was found on the digital platform Flashbak that aims to collect and display photos from the past.



recording history #2- megabyte micro

This advertisement is of the IMSAI Corp. that recognized the potential in the microcomputer industry early on. The rest of the article and another gallery shows more computer advertisements from the 1970s.

This ad was found on a website that identifies itself as a place that “helps IT decision-makers identify technologies and strategies to empower workers and streamline business processes.”



recording history #2-computer class

This is a photo from an early computer class at Lindenwood University in St. Charles, MO. For more information read this Washington Post opinion piece that explores the role women played in computing through history, and why there are fewer women in tech today.

This photo was found in the Lindenwood University library. It and other photos from the class of 1970 can be viewed in this file.



recording history #2-IBM

This is a photo of “office personnel with an IBM System/34 data processing system in 1977.” Read this description from IBM for more information on the IBM System/34.

This photo was found in the IBM archives on women in technology.

The Women of the 1970s


Above is a photo from Texas A&M’s newspaper of the two women that were the first graduates in Nuclear Engineering at Texas A&M. They graduated in the early 1970’s

Source: Texas A&M’s newspaper Texasags

For additional reading, see The Johns Hopkins University Press for an article about women’s history in engineering.


Above is an advertisement from 1973 about the great new oven for housewives. One of the points reads “Every year, the chore of cleaning ovens claims the good humor of countless homemakers…”

This advertisement was found on a website that describes themselves as “a digital collection of thousands of wonderful pictures, stories, letters, sounds and movies from across the past, with one aim – to make the past come alive.”

For additional reading more about housewives and household appliances, read an article from Technology and Culture.


This picture above is a woman working with the mainframes.

This photo comes from a blog of retro photos.

Read more about the pioneers of women in computing in the twentieth century from an article by Denise Gurer.


Above is similar to the previous of a woman working with the computers and reading what it has printed.

The source of this is a blog that proudly labeling itself “The Home of Tech Lady Tuesday”

The blog also provided a great article from the Washington Post about when computing was a woman’s job.


The poster for the first calculator taken at Berkeley University. The caption that followed it was “A Frenchman invented it” because it was a French invented, like the mini skirt.

The source of this picture is from the Un Deux Trois Museum.

For more reading about the sexualization of women in print advertising published in the journal “Sex Roles”

IBM System 34



IBM’s came out with the System/34 in April of 1977 as a more economical approach to distributive data processing for all kinds of businesses. Used as many as 8 workstations and offered seven attachments including the IBM 5251 Display Station.

To read more about IBM’s System/34 click here for the IBM Archives and to find the original picture click here for Computer History Museum.


Sperry Univac 9080 Mainframe Computer


The Sperry Univac 90/80 Mainframe computer was first introduced around 1973. The 90/80 model was the high end system and was part of the Series 90 systems. These systems had an instruction set that was compatible with the IBM System/360.

To read more about the Univac 90/80 click here and to see the original picture click here for Donne nell’Informatica’s Pinterest.

IBM System/370 Model 145



The International Business Machines Corporation introduced the IBM System/370 Model 145 in 1970. It used 145 silicon memory chips, rather than magnetic core technology that had been used up to that point. One of its advantages included the ability to use IBM’s then newest and fastest disk storage devices. Read more about the IBM System/370 Model 145 here.

This picture can be found in Jennifer Keegin’s blog here.

Keypunch Card Girl


Keypunch girls, like the one depicted here, translated code instructions onto punched cards which were then run by a card reader machine, such as the Crioe machine from this picture. This created a division of labor where men waited for their ideas to be “coded” and women were stuck in this low level job. Read more about the days of early women programmers here.

You can find this image as an artifact at the Computer History Museum, catalog number 102630584. For more information visit their website.

CDC Supercomputer Prototype


The Control Data Corporation released this mockup for the CDC 8600 supercomputer in the 1970’s, however it never came to fruition and was canceled in 1974. We see here, once again, the woman being used as a prop rather than being actively engaged in the technology. Read more about women being used as props in computing ads here.

You can find this image as an artifact at the Computer History Museum, catalog number 1026227358. For more information visit their website.

Woman at Teletype Keyboard


This black and white image dated from 1970 was used to publicize the PDP-8/E minicomputer, advertised to fit in a small office. Here we see a woman as the user of the device, however note that in this time women were often regulated to more clerical code work. Read more about these computer girls here.

You can find this image as an artifact at the Computer History Museum, catalog number 102619005. For more information visit their website.