13 Famous Women Who Changed Tech History Forever

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Carol Shaw – Atari Game Developer

Carol Shaw was born and raised in Palo Alto, CA. Always excellent at math, it wasn’t until she inherited her brothers’ model railroad that Shaw began tinkering with electronics: “I actually designed some circuitry … with some transistors and stuff that would turn on the signal light for various blocks showing there was a train up ahead.”

Fresh out of Berkeley’s Computer Science graduate program, Shaw accepted a position at game-maker Atari in the late 1970s. Wearing thick-rimmed glasses and flannel, she biked 10 miles each way to design and program video games.

Eventually landing at Activision, Shaw programmed one of the Atari’s best-known shooter games, River Raid. For the first time, gamers could experience an inordinate amount of non-random, repeating terrain despite constrictive memory limits. River Raid was the first game that allowed the shooter to accelerate and slow down all over the screen.

Shaw’s work as a pioneer game designer has made her a legend to two generations of tech pros and gamers.

Next Up: Janese Swanson (click here or below)

11 Responses to “13 Famous Women Who Changed Tech History Forever”

    • Sophie Wilson was born Robert Wilson…a transwoman who started a career as a man should not take a space or attention away from a woman who was born female and socialized and raised female.

      • As a matter of fact, I am making a website for a webdev college course highlighting contributions of ALL WOMEN past, present and future and I have been looking for transwomen to feature on my site. I appreciate your bigotry because it just lead me to someone I can add. 🙂

      • I agree. A trans woman who grew up socialized as a MALE did not suffer the setbacks of a society putting him in “his place.” His contributions were already being recognized before he became a female. To equate his “struggle” for recognition and acceptance is to compare apples to oranges.

        To grow up socialized as a female effectively EXCLUDES one from all STEM-related expectations, and further INHIBITS, if not downright IMPEDES her being taken seriously in male-dominated fields. I know it because I lived it! He never did.

  1. False. The current climate of women in the tech industry is all-inclusive and we welcome transwomen. There is no place for discrimination in a field dedicated to advancement both in technology and social justice. Take a seat.

  2. ianpenfold

    what about Margeret Hamilton, who wrote most of the software for the 1969 apollo lunar landing, and invented the job title ‘software engineer’ which is still used today.

  3. Jim Austin

    The ladies who programmed the ENIAC didn’t use any programming languages with text editors and compilers. They were reportedly given blueprints of the machine and told to program it.