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Last on

Wed 21 Aug 2013 11:00 BBC Radio 4 FM only

Duration:
28 minutes
First broadcast:
Wednesday 21 August 2013

From the 1950s to the mid-1970s in Britain, many of the pioneers of early computing were women. This was a highly skilled new world of work providing opportunities that were often in sharp contrast to the established norms of post-war British life, with new technology helping drive social change.

Mary Coombs was the first woman to program the world's first commercially available business computer: the Lyons LEO. She tells us what it was like to work on this machine - which was the size of a room.

In 1962 Dame Stephanie Shirley founded a programming company, Freelance Programmers, which only employed women. She became a very successful figure in the industry.

Ann Moffat started her career at Kodak in 1959. She programmed the black box flight recorders for Concorde and wrote missile programmes for Polaris.

The Science Museum's Keeper of Technologies and Engineering, Dr Tilly Blyth, explains the significance of her museum's collection of machines that changed these women's lives.

Martha Lane Fox presents the programme. In 1998 she co-founded Lastminute.com, and become one of the pioneers of the dot com era.

Producer: Oliver Woods.

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