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Sometimes all it takes is the XX factor

Sometimes all it takes is the XX factor

Have you seen the new Blackberry? I’ve had a glimpse and, boy, it’s quite something.

You’ll be familiar with the original, I’m sure – innovative, popular and highly addictive but not what you’d call dainty.

The RIM team can be justifiably proud of its new sleeker, slimmer creation … but before you start getting excited don’t expect to get your hands on one anytime soon. There seems to be something of a shortage. The reason?

Well, the talk from those in the know around Vodafone – whose network supports Blackberrys (or is it Blackberries?) – is that we have the fairer sex to blame. Not all, of course, but a sufficient number of female execs across the country have been snapping them up after seeing a demonstration of one at a recent conference. They clearly know a good tech thing when they see it, which in this testosterone-dominated ICT industry of ours makes for a refreshing change.

So, in honour of X beating Y (of course, it’s actually XX and XY, but I guess that didn’t make for quite such a good advertising pitch for YahooXtra), I thought it apt to continue the theme and take this opportunity to highlight a few other noteworthy XX achievements in our world.

Take Ada Lovelace who wrote a scientific paper in 1843 that anticipated the development of computer software, artificial intelligence and computer music. She devised a method of using punchcards to calculate Bernoulli numbers, in effect, becoming the first computer programmer. In her honour, the US Department of Defense named its computer language ‘Ada’ in 1980.

During the Second World War, actress Hedy Lamarr invented a communication system that manipulated radio frequencies between transmission and reception to develop an unbreakable code so that top-secret messages could not be intercepted.

As an undergraduate at MIT, Krisztina Holly helped develop the world’s first computer-generated, full-colour reflection hologram. In the early 90s, she also co-invented Visual Voice, the first Windows-based computer telephony development tool.

In 1952, Grace Hopper came up with the first computer ‘compiler’, software that makes programming languages easier to write. Computer programmers had been required to write programming instructions in binary code, a series of 0’s and 1’s. Hopper’s compiler, however, allowed programmers to use more human sounding language commands to replace repetitive commands. She also developed a common language with which computers could communicate called Common Business-Oriented Language or COBOL, now the most widely used computer business language in the world.

Working as a researcher at Bell Laboratories, Erna Schneider Hoover created a computerised telephone switching system that monitored incoming calls and then automatically adjusted the call’s acceptance rate, helping to eliminate overloading problems (the principles of which are still used today). She was subsequently awarded one of the first software patents ever issued in 1971.

Lastly, in November 1999, Randice-Lisa Altschul was issued a series of patents for the world’s first disposable cellphone. Trademarked the Phone-Card-Phone, the device is the thickness of three credit cards and made from recycled paper products.

All in all, the IT world has a lot to be grateful to the female touch for… even if some of us are having to wait for our Blackberrys!


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