Belinda Pearson, Kay Thorne and CSIRAC

Submitted by kattekrab on Fri, 19/10/2012 - 10:53

Kay Thorne worked with Australia's first computer, CSIRAC. She wrote a short article for the Museum of Victoria CSIRAC collection and said this about women in computing:

"I have been asked to comment on the role of women in computing in those days. It was common for women to be the data processors in scientific environments. This was usually done using large calculators, of which Marchants were the best known at the time. Betty Laby ran a laboratory in the Statistics Department in which a large number of women operated these calculators, processing data for the predominantly male staff and research workers. The women were often called computers, and it was a skilled and demanding occupation.

When the computer became more available, a few more women, such as Alison Doig were amongst the early users. They were usually research workers who wanted to process their experimental results. The calculator operators gradually disappeared as their work was done by computers."

Also in that collection was an even shorter article titled "CSIRAC - a woman programmer's view" - I've been able to discover her name is Belinda Pearson. But that's all I know. So as we mark another Ada Lovelace Day, I wonder how we can discover more about the women who worked with Australia's first computer?

Photo of Kay Thorne taken by Jon Augier.
Source: Museum Victoria