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3 women who changed tech history: Where did they start?

3 women who changed tech history: Where did they start?

From yesterday’s legacies to tomorrow’s geniuses

As National Inventors’ Day approaches, we look back at three computer science legacies that inspire us to try our hand at something new, whatever our starting point!

To celebrate National Inventors’ Day, we’re looking back at the lightbulb moments and legacies that changed the course of technology, computer science and cyber security history.

On February 11, we’ll celebrate all the inventions that make our modern lives easier and more efficient. From electricity to elevators, seatbelts to bubble-wrap, everything we rely on in daily life was once invented by someone, somewhere, with an idea to change the world.

Cyber security has evolved because of great inventions too. From Creeper to Linux, every programme we use today was once created by a computer genius. And your WhatsApp chats with built-in encryption and online banking security systems are also feats of great cyber engineering.

Reflecting on the stories and legacies of some of these inspiring inventors is a great way to motivate ourselves on what can be achieved. Where they started and what they went on to achieve is a different journey for everyone.

We’ve picked three fascinating inventors who had no prior knowledge or expertise in the area they would become household names. They showed traits of an epic cyber security expert - determination, creativity, resliance - and demonstrated what can be achieved when you put your mind to making a difference.

1. Ada Lovelace

Who is she?

If you’ve ever heard of the Ada programming language, you’ll be familiar with Ada Lovelace. This talented mathematician was born in London in 1815 and started studying science from the age of four! Aged twelve, she drew plans for a flying machine and developed a passion for inventing.

What is her legacy?

When she reached 17, she met Charles Babbage and was fascinated by his enormous mathematical calculating machine. Many people deem this the first computer ever created.

She went onto translate a complex article written by a military engineer and the Italian Prime Minister at the time, which explained the theory and coding capabilities of the analytical engine. Many believe this to be the first algorithm ever created.

Ada was a visionary who predicted that computers could do much more than just crunch numbers. While Babbage believed the machine was only for numerical calculations, Ada was adamant that the machine could learn to program anything from music to pictures.

What can we learn from her?

In 1843, Ada’s visions and theories on computers were so far ahead of their time that they were barely recognised. Today, we can all learn that having a curious mind, thinking outside the box and never limiting yourself to assumptions on technology, can fire the inventor inside.

2. Marie Van Brittan Brown

Who is she?

Marie Van Brittan Brown was the inventor of the first home security system. She also invented the first closed circuit television. Born in Queens, New York in 1922, she started her career as a nurse but would grow to become a visionary in the tech space.

What is her legacy?

When she was growing up, the crime rate in Queens was sky-high and instead of just hoping her family would be safe, Brown decided to take action. Inspired by wondering how long it would take the Police to reach her neighbourhood, she invented a home security system to help her and her loved ones feel safer. She began by making three spy-holes, then attaching a camera and wireless TV system to monitor intruders outside. A video and two-way microphone system was rigged up, along with a separate system that would alert the authorities in times of danger.

What can we learn from her?

Sometimes all it takes is an idea and the persistence to never quit. While Brown could have just waited for the authorities to protect her, she decided be extra vigilant and set up her own system. Her desire to create a secure system to protect her family proves that when there is an essential need for safety, we are capable of brilliant things, whatever our starting point and prior knowledge. We can all learn that we don’t have to accept the current systems in place if we can invent original, more efficient ways of defending the physical and digital worlds.

3. Hedy Lamarr

Who is she?

Hedy Lamarr was an actress, icon and inventor in the 20th century. In her acting breaks, Lamarr would get bored. And she decided to start ‘tinkering’ with engineering projects. She had a lab at home and one in her trailer. In the 1940s, she worked alongside a composer to invent a torpedo guidance system that wasn’t vulnerable to electronic jamming.

What is her legacy?

Through the invention of the torpedo guidance system, Lamarr discovered a basic principle called ‘the spread spectrum’ or ‘frequency hopping’ technology which would later be adapted into WiFi and Bluetooth systems. The patent was granted in 1942 – over 60 years before WiFi was used all over the world.

What can we learn from her?

No career path is ever simple. Many of us have skills that we aren’t even aware of and it’s only when we explore our potential do we realise that we’re capable of incredible feats. Lamarr was clearly multi-skilled and didn’t just focus her determination in one area. We can all learn a lesson from this - never limit or assume your capabilities only lie in one area.

Who will be next? It really could be you!

Each of the women above had no prior knowledge or skills about computer science or security but they all had one thing in common – the drive to succeed and make a difference. We hope reading about these incredible feats has inspired you to think outside the box and wonder about how much you could achieve playing CyberStart. Use all your might, determination and persistence to crush the fun learning games and challenges, battle through the bases and think about the endless possibilities on offer!

Whether you win a scholarship to a leading college or build an enviable skill-set that will impress future employers, you’ll gain an edge over your peers, accelerate your career and end up with a plethora of cool jobs to chose from! CyberStart also teaches you invaluable skills that can be transferred to other industries, meaning you’re training your brain to succeed whatever your chosen path!

All of the programmes below are entirely free, and feature CyberStart!

CyberStart America

What is it? A fun programme developed to help you discover your talent, advance your skills and win scholarships in cyber security.

Who’s it for? 13-18 year old high school students in the US only.

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Cyber FastTrack

What is it? The fastest and most cost-effective route to a career in cyber security via free training and exclusive scholarship opportunities.

Who’s it for? College students in the US only.

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