I have just finished reading Conrad Hilton’s autobiography, “Be My Guest”. He so impressed me by his drive and ambition that I’m now inspired to blog about a person who has made an impact in my life and professional career.

My entrance into the field of technology was many years ago as a student at the Electronic Computer Programming Institute in Virginia Beach, Va., majoring in, of course, computer programming. The main instructor at that time was a woman in her late 50s.

Please forgive me, for her name escapes me, but that does not minimize the effect that she had on me. This was several decades ago, and yet, this woman had already been employed in the computer field for several decades. Which means she had broken ground in this field at the near infancy of the computer age. She, like Conrad Hilton in his time, had persevered in the frontier of her time, the computer frontier.

One story that has stuck with me is how the term “bug”, in reference to computers, came to be. She had been a computer operator, when computers spanned several rooms, and you ran (yes, ran!) back and forth checking that the vacuum tubes were all still functioning and none had blown out. One common reason for this would be an insect, ie. a bug, would get into one of the transistors.

I have since learned, through the power of the Internet, that that wasn’t exactly the first software bug, but rather a story told by Grace Hopper, another female pioneer in the computer field.

We all need heroes to look up to and to emulate. I now have two. Conrad Hilton inspires me to keep looking forward and dream the big dream, and my former ECPI instructor has inspired me to stick with it, continue learning and watching the growth of technology. And I hope that when I reach her age I am an inspiration to another young woman.

Joanne Ghidoni author pic

Joanne Ghidoni

Joanne is a Software Quality Assurance Engineer at Plixer. She has also held positions as Technical Support Engineer and Sales Engineer since joining Plixer in 2005. Prior to joining Plixer, Joanne has had numerous positions in the IT field, including data entry, computer operator, PC coordinator and support, mainframe programmer, and also Technical Support and web programmer at Cabletron Systems. In her spare time, Joanne enjoys traveling, always seeking out new and interesting places to visit.


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