LGBTQ+ Computer Science Greats

Computing is for all. Anyone can be a Computer Scientist or Electronic Engineer if they love the subject, put their mind to it, and put the work in. Some of the most amazing, the absolute greats, who have transformed the subject have been LGBTQ+. Several computer scientists have also played a major role helping transform both views and the law. Some who made contributions to computer science worked in other disciplines. Find out about their work and the amazing contributions they have made. More LGBTQ+ Greats to come (of course) …

Arguably the greatest Computer Scientist of all was Alan Turing. He worked out a theoretical foundation for what computation was, laying the foundation for building the first real computers. His work cracking codes helped win World War II. He also helped design one of the early real computers, and more. He was convicted for being gay, though was the first gay Britain to be pardoned posthumously paving the way for all those convicted for being gay to be pardoned too. Other LGBTQ+ greats include Lynn Conway, Christopher Strachey, Edith Windsor, Sophie Wilson and Peter Landin who also was a tireless advocate for LGBTQ+ rights.

Alan Turing: grandfather of Computer Science

Alan Turing, probably the most influential and famous English computer scientist,  has contributed to computer science in a number of highly significant ways.  As well as being known for his Bletchley Park cryptography expertise he also developed underlying theories which are the basis for how everyday computers work and underpin our understanding of Artificial Intelligence…(read on)

Lynn Conway: revolutionising chip design

MIT professor and transgender activist, Lynn Conway along with Carver Mead, completely changed the way we think about, do and teach VLSI (Very Large Scale Integration) chip design. Their revolutionary book on VLSI design became the standard book used to teach the subject round the world. It was a whole new way of doing electronics. Their ideas formed the foundation of the way electronics industry subsequently worked, the foundation of the tech start-up boom…(read on)

Christopher Strachey: programming languages and more

Christopher Strachey not only wrote the first ever computer game and programmed the first recorded computer music, the first “creative” program … and he also developed theories and models which underpin all modern programming languages…(read on)

Sophie Wilson: chip design

Sophie Wilson designed the chip for the BBC Micro. This was one of the most popular early personal computers. She then co-designed the chip (the ARM processor) that is in almost all mobile phones as well as in tablets, TV’s and almost every other digital gadget in our homes… (read on)

Edith Windsor: gay marriage

US Supreme court building
Image by Mark Thomas from Pixabay

Edith Windsor, who was a senior systems engineer at IBM and founding president of a software consulting company, led the landmark Supreme Court Case (United States versus Windsor) that led to gay marriage becoming legal in the US…. (to come)

Peter Landin: semantics and gay rights

Peter Landin was one of the leading computer scientists who set the foundations for programming language development. In particular, he defined his ISWIM language using logic. This pioneered the idea of formal semantics making the meaning of a program precise. That aside ideas in ISWIM went on to be used in languages that followed. He was also a tireless advocate of gay rights… (to come)

Ludwig Wittgenstein: tautology and truth tables

Truth jigsaw with pieces missing

Ludwig Wittgenstein is one of the most important philosophers of the 20th century. His interest was in truth and he made contributions to logical thinking that are a foundation of computing. He invented the modern idea of tautology as something that is true whatever the situation and also popularised truth tables, now used as a simple way to understand logical operations and logical expressions … (read on)

David Bowie: creative computing

David Bowie co-wrote an early computing tool to help creativity, based on an algorithm he used to help write lyrics… He also played enigmatic electronic engineer Nikola Tesla in the film The Prestige (read on)

More to come (of course)


This page was funded by UKRI, through grant EP/W033615/1.