This guest post was written by Kathy Kleiman, who discovered the ENIAC Programmers 20 years ago and founded the ENIAC Programmers Project to record their stories and produce the first feature documentary about their work. More at – Ed.

"For many years in the computing industry, the hardware was it, the software was considered an auxiliary thing."
– Jean Bartik

For more than 50 years, the women of Electronic Numerical Integrator And Computer (ENIAC) were forgotten, and their role in programming the first all-electronic programmable computer and creating the software industry lost. But this fall, old met young, and a great computer pioneer met today's Internet pioneers. It happened in Silicon Valley and it happened at Google.

A little over a month ago, the Computer History Museum (CHM) in Mountain View honored Jean Bartik with its Fellows Award. This lifetime achievement award recognized her work as a programmer of the ENIAC and leader of the team to convert ENIAC to a stored program machine.

The Fellows Award was a rousing celebration of Bartik, Bob Metcalfe and Linus Torvalds. The next night, Bartik returned to CHM to discuss her life story in An Evening with Jean Jennings Bartik, ENIAC Pioneer. More than 400 people attended. They laughed at Bartik's descriptions of the ENIAC Programmers' exploits and enjoyed her stories of “Technical Camelot,” Bartik's description of her days at Eckert and Mauchly Computer Corporation in the 1950s. This video captures the evening:

During the Q&A session, one audience member asked: “If you were working today, where would you want to work?” Without hesitation, Bartik replied “Google!” with a huge smile. Googlers in the audience cheered.

Two days later, Bartik and I went to Google. We were met by our hosts, Ellen Spertus, Robin Jeffries, Peter Toole and Stephanie Williams, and whisked onto the campus past scrolling screens of Google searches and beach volleyball courts.

In the cafeteria, two dozen Google Women Engineers joined us. They pushed their chairs close to Bartik and leaned in to catch every word. Bartik regaled them with stories of computing's pioneers – the genius of John Mauchly and J. Presper Eckert, co-inventors of the computer, and the ingenuity of Betty Holberton and Kay Mauchly Antonelli, fellow programmers and software creators. She shared the joys and struggles of those who created the computer industry.

After lunch we toured the campus. Bartik enjoyed seeing where Googlers program work and the videoconferencing equipment they use to talk with colleagues around the world.

It is a visit we will never forget, and for me, its own moment in history. Twenty years ago, I discovered the ENIAC Programmers and learned their untold story. I founded the ENIAC Programmers Project to record their histories, seek recognition for them and produce the first feature documentary of their story. Our website provides more information about the documentary, WWII-era pictures and an opportunity to help change history. The stories Bartik shared with Googlers that day belong to the world.