"The history of technology you probably know is one of men and machines, garages and riches, alpha nerds and brogrammers. But the little-known fact is that female visionaries have always been at the vanguard of technology and innovation--they've just been erased from the story. Until now. Women are not ancillary to the history of technology; they turn up at the very beginning of every important wave. But they've often been hidden in plain sight, their inventions and contributions touching our lives in ways we don't even realize. VICE reporter and YACHT lead singer Claire L. Evans finally gives these unsung female heroes their due with her insightful social history of the Broad Band, the women who made the internet what it is today. Learn from Ada Lovelace, the tortured, imaginative daughter of Lord Byron, who wove numbers into the first program for a mechanical computer in 1842. Seek inspiration from Grace Hopper, the tenacious mathematician who democratized computing by leading the charge for machine-independent programming languages after World War II. Meet Elizabeth "Jake" Feinler, the one-woman Google who kept the earliest version of the Internet online, and Stacy Horn, who ran one of the first-ever social networks on a shoestring out of her New York City apartment in the 1980s. Evans shows us how these women built and colored the technologies we can't imagine life without. Join the ranks of the pioneers who defied social convention and the longest odds to become database poets, information-wranglers, hypertext dreamers, and glass ceiling-shattering dot com-era entrepreneurs. This inspiring call to action is a revelation: women have embraced technology from the start. It shines a light on the bright minds whom history forgot, and shows us how they will continue to shape our world in ways we can no longer ignore. Welcome to the Broad Band. You're next"--
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Evans does walk a fine line around issues of women's innate abilities. She often hints that women are innately better at things like communicating and networking. The chapter about games for video games is especially egregious here. She does not address the fact that there is no way of knowing whether women are innately better at these things: women are socialized to be better at them. The idea that one gender is better than another at anything is really dangerous in this context.
Aside from that, this is an engaging book and tells some really important stories.
Ada Lovelace and Grace Hopper make appearances in this book, along with the "ENIAC Six." They were six women who did the actual "programming" of
In 1980s New York City, Stacy Horn loved connecting to the WELL, the famous West Coast BBS (bulletin board system). But the long-distance phone bills were getting out of hand. So she started ECHO, one of the first social networks, out of her apartment.
Girls like playing computer games just as much as boys (perhaps with less emphasis on death and explosions). Some game manufacturers noticed, and tried to take advantage of this untapped market.
This is an excellent book. It expertly punches holes in the all-male mythology of Silicon Valley. For anyone interested in how the future is really made, start here.