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10 Innovations By Women That Changed Life As We Know It

Meet the mothers of invention. Now see how they're driving maker culture at Intel iQ.

1. ARPANET — Elizabeth Feinler

Andrew Adams (CC BY-SA 2.0) / Via Flickr: fastlizard4

Before there was an internet, there was ARPANET. And from 1972 to 1989, Elizabeth Feinler ran the network under the Department of Defence, issuing domain names and establishing the suffixes we still use today: .com, .edu, .gov, .mil, .org, and .net.

2. Network algorithms — Radia Perlman

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While no single person can take credit for the internet, Radia Perlman can claim a large part in its development. Her most famous invention, the Spanning Tree Protocol, revolutionized Ethernet technology, making "today's Internet possible."

3. Adventure games — Roberta Williams

Blake Patterson (CC BY 2.0) / Via Flickr: blakespot

Distinguished for writing, illustrating, and designing Mystery House, the first graphic adventure, Roberta Williams would ultimately secure her legacy as the co-founder of Sierra On-Line and creator of Phantasmagoria and the King's Quest series.

4. Digital display advancements — Mary Lou Jepsen

Marcin Wichary (CC BY 2.0) / Via Flickr: mwichary

In addition to seeing her work globally adopted in HDTVs and head-mounted displays, Jepsen co-created the first holographic video system at MIT and went on to invent sunlight-readable displays as a co-founder of One Laptop per Child.

5. Computer icons — Susan Kare

Abel Cheung (CC BY-SA 2.0) / Via Flickr: abelcheung

The familiar icons that adorn our toolbars and desktops — trash cans, clocks, and paint buckets — came from the mind of Susan Kare more than 30 years ago. Today you can still find her work in your newsfeed, and even in the classic Solitaire game.

6. Computerized switchboards — Erna Hoover

Fairbanks (Jerry) Productions (CC0) / Via archive.org

One of the first to receive a patent for software, Erna Hoover forever changed communication when she invented a computer-monitored telephone switching system in the late '60s. And what's more, she did it in part on maternity leave.

7. Stem cell isolation — Ann Tsukamoto

Vojtěch Dostál (CC BY-SA 3.0) / Via commons.wikimedia.org

In the ongoing efforts to better understand cancer, stem cell research perhaps holds the most potential in finding a cure — and we have Ann Tsutamoto partly to thank for that. In 1991, she became the first to discover a method for isolating them.

8. Telecommunications research — Shirley Jackson

Jeffrey Beach (CC BY 3.0) / Via vimeo.com

The first African-American woman to earn a doctorate at MIT and a preeminent theoretical physicist, Shirley Jackson can find her scientific influence on a number of major technologies, including caller ID, fiber optic cables, fax machines, and more.

9. Closed-circuit television — Marie Van Brittan Brown

Manfred Majer (CC BY-SA 2.0) / Via Flickr: manfredmajer

In 1966, owning a dog and a fence might have constituted decent home security. But that year, Marie Van Brittan Brown and her husband invented "the forerunner to the modern home security system" — a motorized camera and wireless monitor.

10. Getting us to the moon — Katherine Johnson

NASA (CC0) / Via commons.wikimedia.org

In the 1960s, with computers in their infancy, NASA depended on countless human "computers," chief among them Katherine Johnson. Her crowning moment came in 1969, when her trajectory successfully landed the Apollo spacecraft on the moon.

Read up on some of the women inventors making waves in today's maker movement at iQ.Intel.com. 💡