December 21, 1920
New York City, New York, U.S.
Adele Goldstine (née Katz; December 21, 1920 – November, 1964) was an American mathematician and computer programmer. She wrote the manual for the first electronic digital computer, ENIAC. Through her work programming the computer, she was also an instrumental player in converting the ENIAC from a computer that needed to be reprogrammed each time it was used to one that was able to perform a set of fifty stored instructions.
Early life and education
Goldstine was born in New York City on December 21, 1920, to Jewish parents. She attended Hunter College High School, then Hunter College. After receiving her B.A, she attended the University of Michigan, where she earned a Master's in mathematics. At Michigan, she met Herman Goldstine, the military liaison and administrator for the construction of the ENIAC, and the two were married in 1941.
Work on ENIAC
As an instructor of mathematics for the women "computers" at the Moore School of Electrical Engineering, Goldstine also trained some of the six women who were the original programmers of ENIAC to manually calculate ballistic trajectories (complex differential calculations). The job of computer was critical to the war effort, and women were regarded as capable of doing the work more rapidly and accurately than men. By 1943, and for the balance of World War II, essentially all computers were women as were their direct supervisors.
She wrote the Operators Manual for the ENIAC after the six women (Kay McNulty, Betty Jean Jennings, Betty Snyder, Marlyn Wescoff, Fran Bilas and Ruth Lichterman) trained themselves to program the ENIAC using its logical and electrical block diagram. During this time, programming the machine meant moving dials and cables manually.
In 1946 Goldstine sat in on programming sessions with Bartik and Dick Clippinger and was hired to help implement Clippinger's stored program modification to the ENIAC. John von Neumann was a consultant on the selection of the instruction set implemented. This solved the problem of the programmers having to unplug and replug patch cables for every program the machine was to run; instead the program was entered on the three function tables, which had previously been used only for storage of a trajectory's drag function. ENIAC programmer Jean Bartik called Goldstine one of her three great programming partners along with Betty Holberton and Art Gehring. They worked together to program the Taub program for the ENIAC.
After the war, Goldstine continued her programming work with von Neumann at Los Alamos National Laboratory, where she devised problems for ENIAC to process. She had two children, born in 1952 and 1959. She was diagnosed with cancer in 1962 and died two years later at the age of 43 in 1964.
- Jones, J. Sydney. "Adele Katz Goldstine." In Notable Women Scientists. Gale: 1999, pp. 212-13
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- Adele Katz Goldstine biodata, ieeeghn.org; accessed October 19, 2016.