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Women's History Month

by on ‎03-07-2019 10:56 AM

The month of March is a wonderful time of year. We await the arrival of warmer, spring days. We get to watch in awe as beautiful blooms blossom from trees and green begins to appear again. There are many things to celebrate, and one amazing part of March is that it is Women's History Month. What better way to celebrate this month than to honor the women who have preceeded us and given so much to our way of life present-day. While there are endless amount of women we can reflect upon, there are a few that really stand out in the technological field.


Grace Hopper (1906 - 1992)



Grace Hopper, a mathematician and US Navy reserve officer, was probably one of the most ingenious women in the technological field. Computers are such an integral part of our everyday life, and we can thank her each time we utilize these amazing machines. Hopper gave computer programs the ability to "talk" instead of everything being arithmetic. She is the inventor of the programming that translates our written language into computer code so that computers can basically understand us. Not only was Hopper an incredible mind, she was passionate about sharing and teaching young people. She is the definition of someone we can thank daily for impacting our technological lives!


Shirley Jackson: The source of all things telecommunication
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Shirley Jackson is a theoretical physicist whose research with subatomic particles enabled many things to be created that have impacted our field of technology greatly over the years. Portable fax, solar cells, fiber-optic cables, touch-tone telephones, and the technology behind caller ID and call waiting can all be credited to the research conducted by Jackson. Not only did she have a major impact in these particular areas, she was also the first black woman to be awarded a Ph.D. from MIT. Dr. Jackson has set a standard for women everywhere on what hard work and passion can bring. Because of her scientific research, we are continuously improving our methods of communication.


Hedy Lamarr (1914 - 2000)



Hedy Lamarr may strike your memory as the Hollywood beauty in movies such as 'Come Live with Me' (1941), 'Samson and Delilah' (1949), 'Boom Town' (1940), and the list goes on. She was often paired with some of my favorites such as Clark Gable, James Stewart, and Bob Hope. While Hedy was known as the stunning, seductress character whose presence in movies brought pure amazement at her beauty, she used much of her spare time working on inventions. While she tinkered with many things, one of her most innovative contributions was an invention that led us to our present day GPS, Bluetooth, and WiFi capabilities. An interesting fact is that she original came up with this idea when she discovered how easy it was for our military's torpedo technology to be jammed by enemies in World War II. This is where she came up with the idea of "frequency hopping". For this incredible invention, Hedy Lamarr was inducted into the National Inventor's Hall of Fame in 2014.


Josephine Cochrane (1839 - 1913)



Think of your mealtime with your family at home. You cook, eat, clean up, and if you are lucky, put the dishes in the dishwasher to take care of all of that dirty work. While some may consider washing dishes by hand a lost art (I am joking when I say this!), the dishwasher has given us back quality time with our friends and family after mealtime by taking care of the nuisance of cleaning dishes for us. We can thank American inventor Josephine Cochrane for this special appliance in our world! This idea came to Josephine after she noticed heirloom dishes being cracked and chipped from being washed by hand. She came up with an idea of a product that would hold dishes securely in a rack while pressurized water sprayed them clean. From this, we were bestowed the mechanical dishwasher. Josephine received her patent in 1886 and first began marketing her product to hotels. Being a woman in the late 1800s trying to sell this product was an amazing feat in itself. In 1893, her dishwasher was displayed at the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago. This was the beginning of household dishwashers as we know them. Many of us may be familiar with the brand KitchenAid. This company (then known as Hobart) purchased Josephine's company in 1916, and Josephine Cochrane is still considered the founder.


Melitta Bentz (1873 - 1950)



If you are like me and many others, your morning is welcomed with a nice cup of brewed, caffeinated coffee. I personally have a coffee maker that I can set up the night before so that I wake up to the wonderful aromas of the coffee bean. The ease in which we can enjoy our coffee can be credited to German entrepreneur Melitta Bentz. Think about coffee before our present day methods of brewing. You would take the bean and have to grind it. You would then have to find a way to strain the ground bean to separate it from the liquid. No one wants to drink gritty coffee. It was often difficult to find a good way to get your coffee into pure liquid with no leftover bean in it. Melitta dealt with this issue and decided it was time to do something about it. She took blotting paper from a book, put it inside a brass pot perforated with a nail, and in that she invented the filter system we use today. The Melitta Group to this day is still manufacturing and selling coffee, coffee filters, and coffee makers.


Marie Van Brittan Brown (1922 - 1999)




Many people present-day have some type of security at their home to provide comfort and peace of mind. Whether it be cameras, a peep-hole, or alarm systems, all of these can be credited back to American nurse Marie Van Brittan Brown. Marie lived in Queens and was increasingly becoming weary of the higher crime rate and lower police response time. She decided to make a change so that she could be more prepared when people came to her door. Working with her electrician husband, Albert, she decided to make a system that included peep holes and a camera that could move and connect wireless to a monitor in their bedroom. She also added a microphone where she could communicate with whomever was at the door. She even had buttons that could remotely unlock the door or sound an alarm if needed. Their security system was patented in 1969. Marie received an award from the National Science Committee as well for this ground-breaking invention.


While this absolutely does not cover the multitudes of women we could honor and reflect on for Women's History Month, it is amazing to look at the impact that these particular women have had in the technology we use today. It all started with an idea and transformed into greatness that impacts each and every one of our lives daily. I hope we can take this month as a time to appreciate what we have and as a reminder that we all have the ability to make an impact. Take your ideas and run with them!

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