Oral-History:Digital Oldtimers: Oral Histories of Computer Programmers and Other Scientists

Women in Computing

Three women discuss their experiences in the computer industry prior to the PC era. Jane Christopher, a technical recruiter for 31 years, watched employer requirements evolve from people fluent in FORTRAN and COBOL to Unix programmers to network administrators. Jane Gmur got a degree in one of the first computer science programs in the US, at the University of Iowa, in 1975. She programmed IBM 360 and 370 systems in Assembly language and was one of the countless programmers who helped the world avoid a Y2K catastrophe. Caryl Eschweiler taught herself computer programming. When she was 9 she made her own Hollerith cards to run on a toy called the Think-a-Tron. As an adult, she set up entire IT departments from the ground up and taught other scientists to use computers.

Oral History of Robert A. Stryk - 4 Videos

Robert A. Stryk got a masters' degree in Mass Spectrometry and PhD. In nuclear physics at the University of Minnesota in the 1960s. After graduation he went on to help invent the original Honeywell smoke detector.

At the time Stryk attended the U, it was benefiting from the presence of a number of distinguished scientists who had played important roles in the efforts to win World War II. John Harry Williams had started working on a Van de Graaff generator at the University of Minnesota before the war and returned to the project after the war ended. In 1943 he took charge of two Van de Graaff generators at Los Alamos, and in 1945 he was deputy director for the first atomic bomb test on Bikini atoll. On returning to the University, he was instrumental in setting up the skilled trades shops, described in the Skilled Tradesmen Team video, where workmen made custom lab equipment for physics grad students.

Robert Stryk's graduate advisor in his PhD program was Dr. Morris Blair, who used the Van de Graaffs at Los Alamos to measure fission cross sections for Uranium 235.

Dr. Alfred O. C. Nier, referenced in the video A Talent for Science, worked with Kellex Corporation of New York designing mass spectrographs for use in the Manhattan Project. He also designed the miniature mass spectrometers used on the Mars Viking Landers.

A Talent for Science -

A Lot of Interesting Physics -
Skilled Tradesmen Team -
Business Computing -