By Ms Yvonne Johnson, APG NewsMarch 22, 2012
ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. - In celebration of Women's History Month, the APG Garrison will host a dedication ceremony honoring women's contributions in the fields of research, science and technology since the post opened in 1917.
The Women in Bloom dedication of the Women's Research and Development Memorial Garden will take place Friday, March 23, 2:30 p.m., on the east side of Garrison Headquarters, Bldg. 305.
Guest speakers will include Katherine Hammack, assistant secretary of the Army for Installations, Energy and Environment, and Winifred Jonas, an early programmer of the ENIAC, one of the world's first computers. The ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer) was the first general-purpose electronic computer capable of being programmed to solve a full range of computing problems.
The memorial garden project was spearheaded by Dr. Deidre DeRoia, of the DPW Environmental Division and garrison public affairs specialist Terri Kaltenbacher, and was made possible with the help of a DoD Legacy grant for National Public Lands Day.
Kaltenbacher said the monument and native plant pollinator garden were designed to pay tribute to women's intellectual achievements at APG including the ENIAC pioneers who paved the way for the female engineers, scientists and technicians of today.
"We encourage everyone to attend and celebrate the achievements of APG's women in defense as we dedicate this memorial garden," Kaltenbacher said. "We are thrilled that the Honorable Katherine Hammack recognizes the importance of this memorial--that it is the first of its kind in the Army--and is taking time from her busy schedule to join us." Seating is limited. For more information or to RSVP, contact Kaltenbacher at 410-278-3775 or firstname.lastname@example.org or DeRoia at email@example.com.
The Women of ENIAC
Excerpt from "50 Years of Army Computing: From ENIAC to MSRC" by Thomas J. Bergin
The Ballistic Research Laboratory of the Ordnance Department, established in 1938, was charged to produce artillery-firing tables, the settings used for different weapons under varied conditions for target accuracy. Especially in wartime, firing tables had to be prepared and sent to the field as rapidly as possible, because without the information, artillery became less effective. Early in World War II, BRL contracted with the University of Pennsylvania's Moore School of Electrical Engineering to take over operation of the school's somewhat faster differential analyzer.
Hoping to improve on the Bush analog device as a means to generate firing tables, John W. Mauchly and J. Presper Eckert Jr. proposed building an electronic numerical analyzer. With the help of Ordnance officers Col. Paul N. Gillon and Capt. Herman Goldstine, a contract was signed in June 1943 and construction began in June 1944. Final assembly took place in the fall of 1945 and the formal dedication in February 1946. Later the same year, ENIAC was dismantled and delivered to APG in January, 1947.
At the time, it was the largest collection of interconnected electronic circuitry in existence. This year marks the 65th anniversary of the ENIAC.
The first women directly involved with ENIAC were those hired by the Moore School to participate in its actual construction.
According to witi.com, the first programmers started out as "Computers." This was the name given by the Army to a group of over 80 women working at the University of Pennsylvania during World War II calculating ballistics trajectories - complex differential equations - by hand. When the Army agreed to fund an experimental project, the first all-electronic digital computer,
six "Computers" were selected in 1945 to be its first programmers. They were Kathleen McNulty Mauchly Antonelli, Jean Jennings Bartik, Frances Snyder Holberton, Marlyn Wescoff Meltzer, Frances Bilas Spence and Ruth Lichterman Teitelbaum.
All six women contributed to the programming of the ENIAC. Many of these pioneer programmers went on to develop innovative tools for future software engineers and to teach others early programming techniques.
The first person from the proving ground who was transferred to the ENIAC was Winifred "Wink" Jonas. She continued to work on the ENIAC until she resigned.