Director Eamonn McFadden will introduce his new short film and answer any questions after the screening.
A new short film focusing on the early life of one of Ireland’s greatest ever technology innovators, computer programming pioneer Kathleen ‘Kay’ McNulty Mauchly Antonelli, has been made to celebrate her life and work from a Donegal perspective.
It was created to pay tribute to her remarkable contribution to technological innovation and reconnect her story back to her humble beginnings in rural Donegal.
Kay was born in Feymore, Creeslough in 1921 under the shadow of Cruckatee and Muckish. She was born into a turbulent time in Irish history during the War of Independence but in October 1924 her family set sail for a new life in the US and they all eventually settled in Pennsylvania.
She recalled that they only spoke Irish at home in Creeslough and this was something they continued to do when the arrived in America. In fact, she recalled not being able to speak English at all at that time in her life.
After graduating high school, she enrolled in Chestnut Hill College for Women and graduated with a degree in mathematics in June 1942.
Her chosen field of study led her to answer an advertisement in a local newspaper looking for maths graduates during the Second World War to help the war effort by calculating bullet and missile trajectories at Ballistic Research Laboratory, which had been established at the Aberdeen Proving Ground in Aberdeen, Maryland.
Unknown to her initially, there was a major programme underway in Aberdeen where engineers were developing a top secret new device called the Electronic Numerical Integrator And Computer, or ENIAC for short.
This is now regarded as the first general purpose computer.
Kay was invited to take part in the programme and became one of the first people to learn to programme the machine using a stack of wire diagram blueprints. It cut the time of working out problems like missile trajectories from weeks to seconds.
Working along with her were Betty Jennings, Betty Snyder, Marlyn Meltzer, Fran Bilas, and Ruth Lichterman they are all now regarded as the first programmers of the ENIAC.
The pioneers of the language that brought us into the technological era we know today.
For many years their role was overlooked in history but now Kay and her colleagues are now championed for being the pioneers they were.