Inventor of assembly language dies at 100

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Professor Kathleen Booth, designer of one of the first operational computers in the world and co-author of two of the first books on computer design and programming, Asynchronous and Synchronous programming published in 1947, and Automatic Digital Calculators published in 1953 has died at the age of 100.

Kathleen Booth, who died on September 29, 2022, is also credited with inventing the first assembly language, a programming language designed to be user-readable. Her assembly languages revolutionized computer programming, and they still have important applications in computer technology, such as the ability to manipulate hardware directly.

Being the creator of the first assembly language is an achievement in itself, but between 1947 and 1953 Kathleen Booth went on to co-create three machines: the ARC (Automatic Relay Computer), the SEC (Simple Electronic Computer), and the APE(X)C (All-purpose Electronic (Rayon) Computer).

Kathleen Hylda Valerie Britten, the second of three children, was born on 9 July 1922 to tax inspector Frederick Britten and Gladys, née Kitchen. After graduating from King Edward VI High School for Girls in Birmingham, she attended Royal Holloway College during the Second World War.

Two years later she moved to Birkbeck College, first as a research assistant, then as a lecturer and finally as a research fellow. In 1950, she married her colleague Andrew Donald Booth and had two children. Together with her husband she wrote books and designed machines.

Kathleen remained active even after her retirement, researching neural networks, which led to the development of a program to simulate how animals recognize patterns.

The sources for this piece include an article in TheRegister.


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