Learning to code has deep roots in American society and culture

December 7–13 is Computer Science Education Week, an annual initiative that encourages K-12 students to experiment with computer programming.

The week honors the legacy of computing pioneer Admiral Grace Murray Hopper, who was born on December 9, 1906. Hopper created some of the world’s first programming systems, including FLOW-MATIC, the predecessor to COBOL. Over 100,000 educators worldwide will participate in teaching activities, including Code.org, a Seattle area non-profit dedicated to promoting diversity in computer education.

Professor Renzhi Cao teaches computer science to local middle school students at Pacific Lutheran University. Early engagement is a regular feature of Computer Education Week and growing technical communities. (Photo: John Froschauer / Pacific Lutheran University)

While initiatives advocating for diversity in education can get lost in the headlines, there…

The stereotype of 1980s hackers is that they were isolated young men with a penchant for mischief. But can we learn more about the origins of American techno-culture if we search for hackers that were women?

This story explores the career and activism of Judith Milhon or “St. Jude” (1939–2003), a self-proclaimed hacker, programmer, journalist, and cyberpunk from the era of time-share computing and early PCs.

Beyond a passing reference by journalists, Milhon’s life has not been well studied. However, she was a fascinating advocate for technology and free speech who believed in equal rights, freedom of expression, and the…

Michael J. Halvorson

Michael J. Halvorson, Ph.D. is Benson Family Chair of Business and Economic History at Pacific Lutheran University. He lives in Seattle.

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