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Erna Schneider Hoover

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Erna Schneider Hoover

Dr. Hoover, born in 1926, earned one of the first patents in software ever issued. She earned her Bachelors with honors from Wellesley College and a Ph.D. in philosophy and math from Yale University.

At a time when Bell Labs was being inundated with the volume of incoming calls, they needed a solution to their hard-wired and mechanical switching equipment. It was while she was in the hospital giving birth to one of her three daughters that she came up with the idea to use computing to regulate incoming calls for Bell Labs, with whom she was employed at the time. This method gave priority to processes that were concerned with in the input and output of the switch over processes that were less important such as record keeping and billing. This allowed for more robust service to callers during peak load times.

Hoover was made supervisor, the first female, of a technical department within Bell Labs.