Jean Sammet, Co-Designer of a Pioneering Computer Language, Dies at 89

Software engineer Jean E. Sammet, who co-designed the Common Business Oriented Language (COBOL) and was elected the first female president of the ACM in 1974, passed away on May 20 at the age of 89. Sammet achieved a level of prominence in computing beyond most women of her generation, and she once said her ambition was “to put every person in communication with the computer,” according to University of Maryland professor Ben Shneiderman. The Computer History Museum’s Dag Spicer says Sammet’s book, “Programming Languages: History and Fundamentals,” published in 1969, “was, and remains, a classic” in the field. COBOL remains an essential element in the mainframes underlying corporate and government agency operations worldwide. Sammet worked with five other programmers designing COBOL over a period of two weeks, and the language enabled innovative techniques for describing and representing data in computer code. Sammet later worked to inject more engineering discipline into the language.

More info here: The New York Times, by Steve Lohr

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