Frances E. Allen, a 74 year old woman with a 45 year career at IBM, is the first woman ever to receive the coveted A.M. Turing Award given annually by the Association for Computing Machinery. The award, plus $100,000, was given to Allen on Wednesday in recognition of her contribution to the optimization of computer compilers used for translating one computer's language to anothers. Allen has worked on many prestigious projects including software for the National Security Agency to IBM's Blue Gene supercomputer. Retired from IBM since 2002, Allen has remained active in programming and encourages girls and women everywhere to study computer sciences.
One of the most prestigious prizes in computing, the $100,000 Turing Award, went to a woman Wednesday for the first time in the award's 40-year history. Frances E. Allen, 74, was honored for her work at IBM Corp. on techniques for optimizing the performance of compilers, the programs that translate one computer language into another. This process is required to turn programming code into the binary zeros and ones actually read by a computer's colossal array of minuscule switches. Allen joined IBM in 1957 after completing a master's degree in mathematics at the University of Michigan. At the time, IBM recruited women by circulating a brochure on campuses that was titled "My Fair Ladies."