Mary Edith "Edie" Wilson
The lack of inclusivity in the technology sector is the reason why the history of technology often omits the work and life of more important people from the LGBTQ+ community that shaped technology. Most of the technology that is in use today were designed by people who were not just members of the LGBTQ+ community, but also advocates for LGBTQ+ rights.
It is Pride Month and at The Stack Journal, we have been celebrating queer women in tech, past and present. As Mary Edith Windsor consulted in the tech space, she educated more queer people in LGBTQ groups and helped them become tech literate. Her legal battle with the United States government when she discovered that the US government does not recognize same-sex couples as spouses led to the legalization of same-sex marriages in US.
Born in 1929 in Philadelphia, Mary Edith Windsor was a computer programmer and an engineer. In 1957, Windsor received her master's degree in mathematics from New York University. While she studied at NYU, she worked on a computing project for the Atomic Energy Commission.
Windsor worked and assisted the math department by entering data into its Universal Automatic Computer (UNIVAC). She was also a programmer at Combustion Engineering, where she worked with physicists and the UNIVAC.
After graduating in 1958, Windsor fully began her career in tech at International Business Machines Corporation (IBM) where she started as a mainframe programmer. She worked on the systems architecture and the implementation of the operating systems and designed the language processors.
In 1968, she became the Senior Systems programmer, the highest technical role at the time, in the company. She worked meticulously at IBM for about 16 years and she was well known in the company for her “top-notch debugging skills”. After she left IBM, she became the founding president of PC Classics, a consulting firm that specialized in software development projects.
Windsor was also known for her work in computerizing the LGBTQ+ communities’ mailing systems. Her contributions as a queer woman in tech went beyond teaching the community basic tech skills. She was an LGBTQIA+ activist till she died.