Every October the UK holds Black History Month (the equivalent in the US is National African American History Month in February) to celebrate the achievements and positive contributions of countless black people over the centuries. Computer science is often portrayed as a white, male middle class subject so this page aims to redress the balance recognising the achievements of black computer scientists past and present based on profiles from cs4fn.
Find our cs4fn page on Black Computer Science History here.
Mark Dean: Computer Architecture
Mark Dean helped create the first personal computers at IBM, creating the architecture that allowed peripherals like keyboard, printer and mouse to be connected to the motherboard.
Gladys West: Satellite positioning
Gladys West’s work on accurate positions of satellites underpins satnav and other location aware services we rely on. She also worked on the first sea observation satellite, vital in understanding climate change.
Clarence Ellis: Groupware
Once working at a computer was a lonely endeavour: one person, one computer, doing one job. Clarence Ellis pioneered ways for people to use computers in ways that meant they could work together more effectively rather than less so. In particular, he developed crucial ideas behind how people could edit the same text document at the same time without the document becoming hopelessly muddled. This was one of the earliest forms of what is called computer supported cooperative working. Now with, for example Google Docs, this is common. Before that he was also part of the team that invented graphical user interfaces (GUIs) when working at Xerox Parc, and is credited with inventing the idea of clicking on an icon to run a program.
Katherine Johnson, Mary Jackson and Dorothy Vaughan: Space-age computations
NASAs ‘hidden figures’ worked on calculations like the trajectories of spacecraft and their launch windows. They helped kick off the space age. Their pioneering lives have been made into a film.
Jeremiah Onaolapo: Cyber Security Specialist
Jeremiah Onaolapo is a PhD student at UCL (as of 2018). He has been creating cyber-honeypots and finding out how cybercriminals really operate.
More to come (of course)