In Memoriam: Kathleen Mauchly Antonelli
Kathleen Mauchly Antonelli (nee McNulty), one of the 6 female programmers of the ENIAC, passed away Thursday, April 20, 2006.
Kathleen McNulty Mauchly Antonelli was one of the six original programmers of the ENIAC machine (the world’s first all-electronic computer), thus making her one of the world’s first programmers. Initially, she was hired by Aberdeen Proving Grounds to be a “Computer” where ballistics trajectory equations were calculated by hand to make firing tables for guns and cannons during World War II. Ms. Antonelli was quickly promoted to working on, and then supervising, these calculations on the Differential Analyzer, an electro-mechanical analog calculating device. With the invention of ENIAC, these computations went from taking 40 hours (by hand), to an hour (by Analyzer), to just mere seconds (by ENIAC) and Ms. Antonelli was recruited into the initial programming team. Without prior training and only schematics to work with, the all-woman team programmed ENIAC. After WWII, she helped some of the world’s leading mathematicians use ENIAC, and helped teach the next generation of computer programmers. In 1997 Antonelli was inducted into the Women In Technology International (WITI) Hall of Fame. Ms. Antonelli received her Bachelors Degree in Mathematics from Chestnut Hill College in 1942.
I had the pleasure of meeting Ms. Antonelli at the 2004 Grace Hopper Celebration. My thoughts and prayers are with her family and friends.