Thursday, October 21, 2010
Who's That Queer? [Lynn Conway]
Lynn Conway is an American computer scientist, electrical engineer, inventor, trans woman, and activist for the transgender community.
Conway is notable for several technical achievements, including the Mead & Conway revolution in VLSI design, which incubated an emerging electronic design automation industry. She worked at IBM in the 1960s and is credited with the invention of generalised dynamic instruction handling, a key advance used in out-of-order execution, used by most modern computer processors to improve performance.
Conway was recruited by IBM Research in Yorktown Heights, New York in 1964. She was soon selected to join the architecture team designing a multiple-issue out-of-order dynamic instruction scheduling while working there. The Computer History Museum has stated that "the ACS machines appears to have been the first superscalar design, a computer architectural paradigm widely exploited in modern high-performance microprocessors.
After learning of the pioneering research of Dr. Harry Benjamin in transgender treatment and realizing that a full gender transition was now possible, Conway sought his help and became his patient. After suffering from severe depression over her situation, Conway contacted Dr. Benjamin, who agreed to counsel her and prescribe hormones. Under Dr. Benjamin's care, she began preparing for transition.
Although she hoped to be allowed to transition on the job, IBM fired Conway in 1968 after she revealed to them that she was transsexual, and was planning on transitioning to a female gender role.
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