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Northwest Missouri State University

Jean Jennings Bartik: Computing Pioneer

Jean Jennings Bartik: Computing Pioneer

Jean attended Northwest Missouri State Teachers College, majoring in mathematics.  She became one of only six women computer programmers on the ENIAC, the world's first successful electronic computer.

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The Electronic Campus: Connecting Bearcats

The Electronic Campus: Connecting Bearcats

Northwest unveiled its Electronic Campus Program in 1987.  The program, brainchild of Dr. Jon Rickman, was designed to enhance leaning and instruction by placing computing equipment in every residence hall room and faculty/staff office.

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Northwest's computing history, which includes the Electronic Campus Program, is housed in the Jean Jennings Bartik Computing Museum.  

The Jean Jennings Bartik Computing Museum has a two-fold mission:

  1. To honor the accomplishments of Northwest alumnus Jean Jennings Bartik whose pioneering work on the ENIAC, BINAC and UNIVAC I helped to shape the digital age we now live in.
  2. To document and showcase Northwest's technological development.

The museum, which has a unique collection of early computing memorabilia, has on display an authentic ENIAC Decade Ring Counter, which is on loan from the Smithsonian Institute, and an original Remington-Rand miniature model of the UNIVAC I. Additionally, there is an extensive collection of Northwest computing hardware including an Altair 8800 computer, considered the first personal computer, and an Osborne portable computer, an ancestor to the modern notebook [laptop] computer.

Take a Virtual Tour of the JJB Museum

For online museum images, information and videos of Jean Jennings Bartik and Northwest computing history take our virtual tour by visiting Nortwest's Online Computing History Museum. 

Visit Online Computing History Museum

Contact us or tour the Jean Jennings Bartik Computing Museum 

To schedule a tour of the Jean Jennings Bartik Computing Museum or if you have questions about Jean or the campus (or vitual) JJB Museum contact the Information Technology Help Desk at 660.562.1634 or email the JJB Museum at:

Giving to the JJB Museum

Equipment/Memorabilia Gifts:

To make computing equipment or computing memorabilia gifts to the JJB Museum please email the JJB Museum at and provide detailed information about what you would like to donate and your preferred contact information.  You can also call the Information Technology Help at 660.562.1634 and ask to speak with a JJB Museum staff member. All accepted equipment/memorabilia gifts to the JJB Museum are tax deductible.

Monetary Gifts:

To make monetary gifts to the JJB Museum, please direct all funds to the Northwest Foundation in care of the Jean Jennings Bartik Computing Museum. To contact University Advancement about making a monetary gift for the upkeep or expansion of the JJB Museum, call 660.562.1248 or email  All gifts to to the JJB Museum via the Northwest Foundation are tax deductible.

About Jean Jennings Bartik

Jean Jennings Bartik, whom the museum is named after, was born "Betty Jean" Jennings outside Stanberry, Missouri.  Jean, who stopped using "Betty" in the mid-to-late 1950s for business reasons, graduated from Northwest in 1945 and went on to make history by becoming one of the world's first computer programmers.  

Jean graduated from Northwest in 1945 and was hired as "Human Computer" during World War II.  She was literally a "Top Secret Rosie!"  Jean calculated firing trajectories for the United States military so they could accurately aim at and fire their big guns and hit their intended targets.  Jean then went on to program the ENIAC (The Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer), the world's first successful electronic "general purpose, programmable" computer during World War II.  Jean also led a team that turned the ENIAC into the world's first successful stored program computer by March 1948.

Besides her work on the ENIAC, Jean helped to launch the commercial computer industry by programming the BINAC and designing and programming the UNIVAC I. Jean wrote the world's first sort/merge program for a computer (UNIVAC I).  The UNIVAC, which was also the first computer to have a mass storage system (Magnetic Tape), was the first successful commercial computer. The first UNIVAC was sold to the United States Census Bureau.  

The UNIVAC was a marvelous computer for the time and would be the first computer to predict a presidential election before the polls closed for CBS news.  The UNIVAC predicted that Dwight D. Eisenhower would win the 1952 presidential election by a landslide, and the UNIVAC was correct!  Almost overnight the UNIVAC became a cultural icon appearing on the cover of a Superman comic book and appearing in a cartoon featuring Wile E. Coyote and Bugs Bunny called "To Hare is Human."

Books About or Featuring Jean Jennings Bartik

Pioneer Programmer

Pioneer Programmer:  Jean Jennings Bartik and the Computer that Changed the World (Autobiography)

All author and editor proceeds for sales of Jean's autobiography go to the Jean Jennings Bartik Scholarship for Women in STEM at Northwest. See Online Giving!

Computer Pioneer

Jean Jennings Bartik:  Computer Pioneer (Notable Missourians Series) 

  • Author:  Kim D. Todd
  • For young readers, grades 4 to 6
  • Available online through Truman State Press (publisher) and Amazon

The author and Northwest do not receive any proceeds from sales of this book.

The Innovators

The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution 

Northwest is not affiliated with the author and does not receive any proceeds from sales of the author's book.

Sampling of Articles and Videos Featuring Jean Jennings Bartik