Women 3.0: Adele Goldberg


Name: Adele Goldberg

Short biography: Adele Goldberg was born in Cleveland in 1945 and lived here until she was 11; she and her family then moved to Chicago. Goldberg attended—and received a bachelor’s degree in math from—the University of Michigan. In 1973, she earned a Ph. D. in information science. Since then, Goldberg has worked for Xerox, System Concepts Laboratory, ParcPlace Systems and other programming companies.1

What they do: Goldberg is currently a technological consultant and “concentrates primarily on issues related to helping computer programmers become more effective in … [solving] the different problems they encounter in their work every day. She also pays great attention on the topic of project management as well as on the design and analytical methods necessary to implement and advance object-oriented technology in general.”2. In addition, Goldberg has designed online courses to “enhance equity and high achievement in secondary school math and science.”2

Why they matter: After receiving her Ph. D, Goldberg started work at Xerox, working at the Palo Alto Research Center studying and developing a new programming language called Smalltalk-80.1 Smalltalk-80, “an object-oriented programming language,” was the first of its kind.3 A new interface was created simultaneously with the language, an interface that “was the first to use pictures that allowed programmers to interact with the computer; a mouse could be utilized to interact with overlapping windows on graphical display screens.”3 Goldberg, essentially, was a “mother” of the modern computer experience.

Goldberg took her Smalltalk-80 experience and co-founded a new company—ParcPlace Systems—in 1988. The company worked on creating and selling tools that used the programming language and applications that were Smalltalk-based. Goldberg also took on a variety of roles in the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM)—from 1984 to 1986, Goldberg was the president; she also served as the organization’s national secretary and editor-in-chief of the ACM journal Computing Surveys.

Her other achievements include:

  • Being inducted into the Women in Technology International (WITI) Hall of Fame in 2010.4

  • Receiving PC Magazine’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 1990.5

How they got where they are: Goldberg been at the forefront of computer programming since the 1970s, leading the way for other women (and men, too, I suppose) in the field. She’s been quoted as saying: “Don’t ask whether you can do something, but how to do it.”6 Great advice for anyone, really, regardless of whether they're involved in the technology field or something completely different.

References: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

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