April 12 is the birthday of computer pioneer Evelyn Berezin, one of the people who really brought the computer age closer to everybody.

After studying physics in college, Berezin ended up working at a small company in Brooklyn that, as she told it, instructed her to design a computer, even though she’d never even seen one before.

A few years later she’d not only designed computers, she was coming up with amazing new ways to use them.

Berezin designed a computerized system for airline reservations that was first tested in 1962!

She would later make big advances in electronic banking and designed computer systems for the New York Stock Exchange, though the bosses there once retracted a job offer to her because they didn’t want a woman to hear the traders swearing.

Berezin eventually decided the best way to work on the projects she wanted was by starting her own company, Redactron.

That’s where she came up with probably her biggest innovation: the first computer based word processor, known as the Data Secretary.

In the 1970s, she said, some 6 percent of the entire workforce were secretaries, doing a lot of typing and retyping, often necessary but not terribly exciting.

The company marketed as a way to “free the secretary” and empower women to use their talent and experience for higher-level work, including as managers and directors.

It did some of that and more: word processing on computers is about as fundamental as it gets in the high-tech age.

And this show is part of the proof, cause that’s where I write up everything I say here.

Artist Nadia Gonegaï has been making something very unique: it’s called the Portrait Urn.

Shine a light on this ornate carved receptacle and the shadow on the wall looks like the profile of the person it was made for.

The woman who invented the word processor and online flight booking system has died (Quartz)

Evelyn Berezin, Computer Scientist Behind Groundbreaking Word Processor, Dies At 93 (NPR)

Portrait Urn (Book of Joe)

Photo by Kevin Spencer via Flickr/Creative Commons