Nathan L. Ensmenger

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The first computer programmers came from a variety of occupational and educational backgrounds. Some were former clerical workers or tabulating machine operators. Others were recruited from the ranks of the female “human computers” who had participated in wartime manual computation projects. Most, however, were erstwhile engineers and scientists recruited(More)
In the April 1967 issue of Cosmopolitanmagazine, sandwiched between such conventional women’s magazine fare as “ e Bachelor Girls of Japan” and “A Dog Speaks: Why a Girl Should Own a Pooch,” appeared a curious little essay entitled simply “ e Computer Girls.” e “computer girls,” as the article explained, were the female “computer programmers” who taught the(More)
Over the course of the 1960s and 1970s, male computer experts were able to successfully transform the "routine and mechanical" (and therefore feminized) activity of computer programming into a highly valued, well-paying, and professionally respectable discipline. They did so by constructing for themselves a distinctively masculine identity in which(More)
When the Annals of the History of Computing was first established 25 years ago, it assumed for itself an ambitious agenda: by publishing “scholarly papers and anecdotal notes, rigorously researched material and controversial remembrances,” it would serve as a “living history” of the computer revolution’s unprecedented scientific and technological(More)
Since the mid 1960s, researchers in computer science have famously referred to chess as the 'drosophila' of artificial intelligence (AI). What they seem to mean by this is that chess, like the common fruit fly, is an accessible, familiar, and relatively simple experimental technology that nonetheless can be used productively to produce valid knowledge about(More)
Of all the developments in the recent history of computing, none has attracted such widespread attention as the emergence of the open-source software movement. In part, this is due to the remarkable successes of such open-source projects as Linux, Sendmail, and Apache. Versions of the GNU/Linux operating system are used by 40 percent of large American(More)
From the very earliest days of electronic computing, flowcharts have been used to represent the conceptual structure of complex software systems. In much of the literature on software development, the flowchart serves as the central design document around which systems analysts, computer programmers, and end-users communicate, negotiate, and represent(More)
WEGNER: One of the defining moments of my life was when I survived the Holocaust. My parents were from Austria, and when I was six years old, in 1939 (I was born in 1932), I was put on a train that took me from Vienna to London. It was a special, sealed train, organized by the Red Cross, and was called a Kindertransport—a children’s transport. This was in(More)