Professor Kathy Kleiman's Forthcoming Book on Female Computing Pioneers Reviewed by Publisher's Weekly

May 5, 2022

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Proving Ground Cover

A forthcoming book by PIJIP Professor Kathryn Kleiman has been reviewed by Publisher's Weekly. Proving Ground: The Untold Story of the Six Women Who Programmed the World’s First Modern Computer tells the story of six women hired by the army to program “the world’s first all-electronic, programmable, general-purpose computer,” known as the ENIAC, to calculate missile trajectories during World War II. The women - Frances Elizabeth Snyder Holberton, Betty Jean Jennings, Kathleen McNulty, Marlyn Wescoff, Frances Bilas, and Ruth Lichterman - worked without any manuals, or even existing programming languages, yet their work laid the foundation for the computing revolution. 

Publisher's Weekly's review of Prof. Kleiman's "fantastic debut" says that "Kleiman has a novelist’s gift for crafting a page-turning narrative, and the one on offer is both revelatory and inspiring." The full review is here. 

The book's description on Amazon notes: "While most students of computer history are aware of this innovative machine, the great contributions of the women who programmed it were never told -until now.  Over the course of a decade, Kathy Kleiman met with four of the original six ENIAC Programmers and recorded extensive interviews with the women about their work. PROVING GROUND restores these women to their rightful place as technological revolutionaries. As the tech world continues to struggle with gender imbalance and its far-reaching consequences, the story of the ENIAC Programmers' groundbreaking work is more urgently necessary than ever before, and PROVING GROUND is the celebration they deserve."

Proving Ground:  will be released on July 26, and can be pre-ordered here.

Prof. Kleiman is a Practitioner-in-Residence at the Glushko-Samuelson Intellectual Property Law Clinic and part of the American University Washington College of Law’s Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property (PIJIP). She joined AUWCL from Princeton’s Center for Information Technology Policy (Visiting Research Scholar 2018-2019). She is also a Faculty Fellow of the AU Internet Governance Law and a Fellow of the AU School of Communications Center for Media & Social Impact. Her full bio is here.