UNITED STATES NEWS

Lynn Conway, microchip pioneer who overcame transgender discrimination, dies at 86

Jun 14, 2024, 7:53 AM | Updated: 8:42 am

Lynn Conway, a pioneer in the design of microchips that are at the heart of consumer electronics who overcame discrimination as a transgender person, has died at age 86.

Her June 9 death was announced by the University of Michigan, where Conway was on the engineering faculty until she retired in 1998.

“She overcame so much, but she didn’t spend her life being angry about the past,” said Valeria Bertacco, computer science professor and U-M vice provost. “She was always focused on the next innovation.”

Conway is credited with developing a simpler method for designing microchips in the 1970s, along with Carver Mead of the California Institute of Technology, the university said.

“Chips used to be designed by drawing them with paper and pencil like an architect’s blueprints in the pre-digital era,” Bertacco said. “Conway’s work developed algorithms that enabled our field to use software to arrange millions, and later billions, of transistors on a chip.”

Conway joined IBM in 1964 after graduating with two degrees from Columbia University. But IBM fired her after she disclosed in 1968 that she was undergoing a gender transition. The company apologized in 2020 — more than 50 years later — and awarded her a lifetime achievement award for her work.

An employee who is transgender had brought Conway’s story to the attention of executives.

“We deeply regret what you went through, and I know I speak for all of us,” said Diane Gherson, who was senior vice president of human resources, according to a transcript.

Dario Gill, director of research, told Conway: “Quite simply: You have helped define the modern computing industry.”

Conway told The New York Times that the turnabout was unexpected and “stunning.”

IBM recognized her death Friday.

“Lynn Conway broke down barriers for the trans community and pushed the limits of technology through revolutionary work that is still impacting our lives to this day,” said Nickle LaMoreaux, IBM’s chief human resources officer.

In a 2014 video posted on YouTube, Conway reflected on her transition, saying “there was hardly any knowledge in our society even about the existence of transgender identities” in the 1960s.

“I think a lot of that’s really hit now because those parents who have transgender children are discovering … if they let the person blossom into who they need to be they often see just remarkable flourishing,” Conway said.

The native of Mount Vernon, New York, had five U.S. patents. Conway’s career included work at Xerox, the National Science Foundation and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, part of the U.S. Defense Department. She also had honorary degrees from many universities, including Princeton University.

___

AP reporter Matt O’Brien in Providence, Rhode Island, contributed to this story.

___

Follow Ed White at https://twitter.com/edwritez

United States News

Associated Press

Alabama universities shutter DEI offices, open new programs, to comply with new state law

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — The three University of Alabama System campuses on Tuesday shuttered diversity, equity and inclusion offices— and opened new offices — to comply with a new Republican-backed law attempting to ban the programs on public college campuses in the state. The University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, along with the University of Alabama […]

22 minutes ago

FILE - The Federal Trade Commission building is seen, Jan. 28, 2015, in Washington. The Federal Tra...

Associated Press

FTC orders 8 companies to provide information on ‘surveillance pricing’ practices

NEW YORK (AP) — The Federal Trade Commission has ordered information from eight companies that the agency says offer products and services that use personal data to set prices based on a shopper’s individual characteristics. In a Tuesday announcement, the FTC said it was seeking to better understand the “opaque market” of “surveillance pricing” products […]

59 minutes ago

Associated Press

Proposal to create a new political mapmaking system in Ohio qualifies for November ballot

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A proposal to change Ohio’s troubled political mapmaking system has qualified for November’s statewide ballot, the state’s elections chief announced Tuesday. Republican Secretary of State Frank LaRose said the bipartisan Citizens Not Politicians had submitted 535,005 valid signatures in 58 counties, well over the roughly 414,000 needed to appear on ballots […]

1 hour ago

Patrick Yoes, National President, Fraternal Order of Police, right, listens as Colonel Christopher ...

Associated Press

Officers left post to go look for Trump rally gunman before shooting, state police boss says

WASHINGTON (AP) — Two local law enforcement officers stationed in the complex of buildings where a gunman opened fire at former President Donald Trump left to go search for the man before the shooting, the head of Pennsylvania State Police said Tuesday, raising questions about whether a key post was left unattended as the shooter […]

2 hours ago

Associated Press

Police investigate death of Autumn Oxley, Virginia woman featured on ’16 and Pregnant’

Authorities in Virginia are investigating the death of Autumn Oxley, who appeared on the MTV reality show “16 and Pregnant” a decade ago and died over the weekend, police say. Police said they responded to a medical emergency shortly after 3:00 p.m. Saturday in Sandston, about 9 miles (14.5 kilometers) east of Richmond. Oxley, 27, […]

2 hours ago

A firefighter hoses down the garage of Noel Piri's home that was destroyed by the Hawarden Fire in ...

Associated Press

Earth’s temperature hit all-time record high on Sunday as warming planet marks keep falling

WASHINGTON (AP) — On Sunday, the Earth sizzled to the hottest day ever measured by humans, yet another heat record shattered in the past couple of years, according to the European climate service Copernicus Tuesday. Copernicus’ last year’s record obliterate the previous record of 16.8 degrees Celsius (62.24 degrees Fahrenheit), which itself was only a […]

2 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Midwestern University

Midwestern University Clinic visits boost student training & community health

Going to a Midwestern University Clinic can help make you feel good in more ways than one.

...

Sanderson Ford

3 new rides for 3 new road trips in Arizona

It's time for the Sanderson Ford Memorial Day sale with the Mighty Fine 69 Anniversary, as Sanderson Ford turned 69 years old in May.

...

COLLINS COMFORT MASTERS

Here are 5 things Arizona residents need to know about their HVAC system

It's warming back up in the Valley, which means it's time to think about your air conditioning system's preparedness for summer.

Lynn Conway, microchip pioneer who overcame transgender discrimination, dies at 86