I never knew that Evelyn Berezin, who died on Saturday, invented the word processor, but I am certainly in her debt and grateful that she did.
In an age when computers were in their infancy and few women were involved in their development, Ms. Berezin (pronounced BEAR-a-zen) not only designed the first true word processor; in 1969, she was also a founder and the president of the Redactron Corporation, a tech start-up on Long Island that was the first company exclusively engaged in manufacturing and selling the revolutionary machines.
I suspect that sexism is the primary reason that her name was largely forgotten.
Although Ms. Berezin was inducted into the Women in Technology International Hall of Fame in Los Angeles in 2011, Matthew G. Kirschenbaum noted in “Track Changes: A Literary History of Word Processing” (2016), “she remains a relatively unknown and underappreciated figure, with nowhere near the stature of other women who played significant roles in computer science and the computer industry and have since been recognized by historians.”
It probably did not help that her company’s primary product was called the Data Secretary, which sounds incredibly antiquated now. (When was the last time we used the term secretary in the office to denote an “administrative assistant”?)
If my daughter gets interested in computer science when she is older, I will definitely tell her about Evelyn Berezin in addition to the far more famous Ada Lovelace.