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Ada Lovelace Day :: Cousin Lynn

Cousin Lynn
Photo by Ms. Jen at the family Easter lunch 2007.

For Ada Lovelace Day, I would like to celebrate the achievements of my Cousin Lynn and the other women of her generation in tech.
According to family lore, in the early 1960s, Cousin Lynn (aka Lynn Langtry), age 19, took a administrative position at a company in Los Angeles. The company needed people to help punch out cards that ran the programs on the computer and Lynn volunteered, punching cards turned into learning how to program the computer.
From this fortuitous beginning as a programmer, in 1970, Lynn took a position with Computer Sciences Corporation, contracting for the US government, programming computers in such exotic locations as Hawaii, Alaska and Iran before the fall of the Shah.
As a child, I knew that my mom’s best cousin was an adventurer and lived a secret classified life. As a teenager, when Lynn returned to California, I knew her as my mom’s super cool cousin Lynn who had a job that no other woman I know had. Lynn worked for NASA! But it wasn’t until I started to get involved in the web in 1994-96, that I really got to talk to Lynn about programming, tech, and computers.
One of my favorite conversations with Lynn about programming was about 2000, she was grousing about how tediuos XML seemed, in a class she was taking. She, the woman with nearly 40 years of programming experience, asked my opinion on XML. We both agreed that it was a good data structure, but felt that all the hype of the time was just hype.
Lynn has been a big supporter of my choosing a career in tech and whenever we get together at Easter or Thanksgiving we talk about what is up in the web world, even though she has been retired to a serious “career” in golf and the like for the last 5 or so years.
Given how hard it has been to take up web development and programming as a woman in the 1990s and 2000s, I greatly admire Lynn and her whole generation of women (& men) who pioneered the computer programming field, who worked hours on end in windowless basements in government buildings in Alaska, who worked programming in Tehran, who had opportunities to create a new field.
Thanks, Ada. Thanks, Lynn. Thanks to all the thousands of other women who are programmers and have been an encouragement to many women.

One Response to “Ada Lovelace Day :: Cousin Lynn”

  1. Mike Maddaloni - The Hot Iron

    Don’t forget Admiral Grace Hopper – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grace_Hopper – who was behind COBOL, which is still alive and kicking in 2009!
    As much progress has been made, I still believe there needs to be more women in tech. Go you Jen and everyone else!
    mp/m