Black History, Present and Future

Early black computer scientists have been celebrated less than they deserve until recently but have been integral to the development of computing past, present and future. 

To adapt the words of Karen Spärk Jones: Computing is too important to be left to white men.

Hidden Figures: NASA’s brilliant calculators

NASA Langley was the birthplace of the U.S. space program where astronauts like Neil Armstrong learned to land on the moon. Everyone knows the names of astronauts, but behind the scenes a group of African-American women were vital to the space programme: Katherine Johnson, Mary Jackson and Dorothy Vaughan… (read on)

A PC Success

We have moved on to smartphones, tablets and smartwatches, but for 30 years the desktop computer ruled, and originally not just any desktop computer, the IBM PC. A key person behind its success, particularly for the computer bus, was African American computer scientist, Mark Dean. (read on)

Clarence Ellis: Writing Together

Small photo of Clarence 'Skip' Ellis

Back in 1956, Clarence Ellis started his career at the very bottom of the computer industry. He was given a job, at the age of 15, as a “computer operator” … because he was the only applicant. He was also told that under no circumstances should he touch the computer! Its lucky for all of us he got the job, though! He went on to develop ideas that have made computers easier for everyone to use. Working at a computer was once a lonely endeavour: one person, on one computer, doing one job. Clarence Ellis changed that. He pioneered ways for people to use computers together effectively….. (read on)

Kimberly Bryant: Black Girls Code

Cropped: Kimberly Bryant from Black Girls Code pictured at the SXSW conference in 2016,

Anyone can learn to code, but not everyone has the opportunity, and many are put off because they feel like outsiders. It doesn’t have to be like that though, if we make an effort to help. Kimberly Bryant did… (read on)

Freddie Figgers: the abandoned baby

As a baby, born in the US in 1989, Freddie Figgers was abandoned by his biological parents but he was brought up with love and kindness by two much older adoptive parents who kindled his early enthusiasm for fixing things and inspired his work in smart health. He now runs the first Black-owned telecommunications company in the US.… (read on)

Gladys West: where’s my satellite?

Satellite image of the Earth at night

Satellites are critical to much modern technology, and especially GPS. It allows our smartphones, laptops and cars to work out their exact position on the surface of the earth. Gladys West played a critical role. (read on)

Mark Dean: An inspiration

Do you know who Dr Mark Dean is? No, well you should. Do not worry yourself though, you are definitely not alone. I did not know of him either... former QMUL student Dean Miller tells us about his inspiration (read on)

Jeremiah Onaolapo: cyber-honeypots

To catch criminals, whether old-fashioned ones or cybercriminals, you need to understand the criminal mind. You need to understand how they think and how they work. Jeremiah Onaolapo, when a PhD student at UCL, created cyber-honeypots to find out how cybercriminals really operate. (read on)

More to come (of course)

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This blog is funded by EPSRC on grant EP/W033615/1.