Gloria Ruth Gordon and Ester Gerston, two early ENIAC programmers, at work in front of a massive patch bay.
By June 1943, Hitler controlled most of Europe. Allied forces were recovering from a grueling campaign in Northern Africa and preparing a daring invasion of Italy. Meanwhile in the Pacific, fighting continued island by island. On the home front, at the Ballistic Research Laboratory (BRL) in Aberdeen, Maryland, innovative new weapons technologies were being developed by the U.S. Army. A group of women nicknamed “computors” were toiling on push button calculators, executing complex mathematical formulas, and creating programs for hardware put together by engineers, mathematicians, and scientists in the lab. They were struggling to keep up with the demand for artillery firing tables, charts that helped Soldiers determine the best aim for their weapons. Without them, Soldiers couldn’t target effectively, resulting in wasted ammunition and even loss of life.