Remembering Lynn Conway #Pride2024

Micro-chip/computer pioneer Lynn Conway passed away earlier this month. In addition to her work in computers she was a trans activist.

Great write up of her life and journey as a trans-woman in a hostile environment from Erin Reed:

Eventually, she was hired by IBM where she helped develop the world’s fastest supercomputer at the time on the Advanced Computing System (ACS) project. The computer would become the first to use a “superscalar” design, which made it capable of performing several tasks at once, dramatically improving its performance and making it much faster than previous computers. Despite her pivotal role in the project, she was fired when she informed her employer that she wanted to transition.

What she did next is nothing short of remarkable. Realizing that as an openly transgender woman in 1968, few companies would hire her, she went “stealth” and pretended she had no significant prior experience in computers. She quickly advanced through the ranks and was hired by Xerox, where she famously developed VLSI, or Very Large Scale Integration. This groundbreaking technology allowed for thousands of transistors to be packed onto a single chip, revolutionizing electronics by making cell phones and modern computers possible through miniaturization and increased processing power.

Read more!

And more from Michigan Engineering where she was a professor emerita of electrical engineering and computer science: The legacy of Lynn Conway, chip design pioneer and transgender-rights advocate

More on Conway from the Adafruit Blog as well!


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