Kay McNulty graduated from college in 1942 as one of fewer than a handful of mathematics majors in a class of 92 women. During the summer of Kay’s graduation, the U.S. army was recruiting women with degrees in mathematics to calculate by hand the firing trajectories of artillery used for the war.
Kay joined as a “human computer,” and while working at the Moore School of Engineering at the University of Pennsylvania, Kay met John Mauchly, a physics professor at Ursinus College. His famous exploit was the co-invention with Presper Eckert of the first electronic computer in 1935, known as the ENIAC (Electrical Numerical Integrator and Calculator).
In 1948, Kay and John wed, and two years later, the couple joined forces with Presper Eckert to start a small computer company. The team of three worked on the development of the Univac (Universal automatic computer), known for its expediency. This computer’s primary asset was that it used magnetic tape storage to replace bulky punched data cards and printers. On a side note, by 1950 the computer industry was only four years old.
Schell, B.H., Dodge, J.L., with S.S. Moutsatsos. The Hacking of America: Who’s Doing It, Why, and How. Westport, CT: Quorum Books, 2002.