When the Computer Wore a Skirt: NASA's Human Computers

Human Computers exhibitThe NASA exhibit explores the history and personalities brought to light in the hit film and best-selling book “Hidden Figures.” In 1935 a group of five women came to Langley to form a computer pool to process all the data coming in from wind tunnel and flight tests. It started as an experiment but became something much bigger. In the 1940s Langley began recruiting African-American women as human computers, but due to segregation laws these "West Area Computers" were kept separate from their white counterparts. This changed in the 1950s as NACA (later NASA) integrated and the “human computers” extended into the broader scientific community at NASA. By the 1960s they numbered in the hundreds. This exhibit features three of these pioneers: Dorothy Vaughn, Katherine Johnson and Mary Jackson.

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NASA Human Computers traveling exhibit