Programmer, Deceased Person
1924 – 2011
Who was Jean Bartik?
She was born Betty Jean Jennings in Gentry County, Missouri, in 1924 and attended Northwest Missouri State Teachers College, majoring in mathematics. In 1945, she was hired by the University of Pennsylvania to work for Army Ordnance at Aberdeen Proving Ground. When the ENIAC computer was developed for the purpose of calculating ballistics trajectories, she was selected to be one of its first programmers. Bartik later became part of a group charged with converting the ENIAC into a stored program computer; in the original implementation, ENIAC was programmed by setting dials and changing cable connections. She went on to work on the BINAC and UNIVAC I computers.
Bartik became an editor for Auerbach Publishers, an early publisher of information on high technology. She left Auerbach to join Data Decisions, a competitor to Datapro Research and Auerbach. Data Decisions was founded in 1980 by Elizabeth McKeown Sussman and Sandra Eisenberg, also of Datapro. Data Decisions was funded by Ziff-Davis Publishing in 1980. Jean joined Data Decisions in 1981 where she was a Senior Editor for the Communications Services research publication. Data Decisions was acquired by McGraw-Hill in 1985 and promptly shut down. Having lost her job at the age of 61, Bartik was unable to find any more work in the computer industry and instead began a new career as a real estate agent, which she remained in for most of the rest of her life. She died from congestive heart failure on March 23, 2011.