Lynn Conway

Lynn_Conway.jpgLynn Conway is an American computer scientist, electrical engineer, inventor, trans woman, and activist for the transgender community.

Conway was born on January 10, 1938 and grew up in White Plains, New York. Conway was recruited by IBM Research in Yorktown Heights, New York in 1964, and was soon selected to join the architecture team designing an advanced supercomputer, working alongside John Cocke, Herbert Schorr, Ed Sussenguth, Fran Allen and other IBM researchers on the Advanced Computing Systems (ACS) project, inventing multiple-issue out-of-order dynamic instruction scheduling while working there. Upon completing her transition in 1968, Conway took a new name and identity, and restarted her career as a contract programmer at Computer Applications, Inc. She went on to work at Memorex during 1969–1972 as a digital system designer and computer architect. Conway joined Xerox PARC in 1973, where she led the "LSI Systems" group under Bert Sutherland. Collaborating with Carver Mead of Caltech on VLSI design methodology, she co-authored Introduction to VLSI Systems, a groundbreaking work that would soon become a standard textbook in chip design, used in over 100 universities by 1983. In 1978, Conway served as visiting associate professor of EECS at MIT, teaching a now famous VLSI design course based on a draft of the Mead–Conway text. The course validated the new design methods and textbook, and established the syllabus and instructor's guidebook used in later courses all around the world. Among Conway's contributions were invention of dimensionless, scalable design rules that greatly simplified chip design and design tools, and invention of a new form of internet-based infrastructure for rapid-prototyping and short-run fabrication of large numbers of chip designs. The new infrastructure was institutionalized as the MOSIS system in 1981. Since then, MOSIS has fabricated more than 50,000 circuit designs for commercial firms, government agencies, and research and educational institutions around the world. In the early 1980s, Conway left Xerox to join DARPA, where she was a key architect of the Defense Department's Strategic Computing Initiative, a research program studying high-performance computing, autonomous systems technology, and intelligent weapons technology.Conway joined the University of Michigan in 1985 as professor of electrical engineering and computer science, and associate dean of engineering. There she worked on "visual communications and control probing for basic system and user-interface concepts as applicable to hybridized internet/broadband-cable communications". She retired from active teaching and research in 1998, as professor emerita at Michigan. In the fall of 2012, the IEEE published a special issue of the IEEE Solid-State Circuits Magazine devoted to Lynn Conway’s career . In 1987, Conway met her husband Charlie, a professional engineer who shares her interest in the outdoors, including canoeing and motocross. They soon started living together, and bought a house with 24 acres (97,000 m2) of meadow, marsh, and woodland in rural Michigan in 1994. In 2002, they were married.Lynn is a member of  the advisory board for SPART*A.

LGBT History Month celebrates the achievements of many lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people who have contributed significantly in several ways to the advancement of our community. Limited by the number of days on the calendar, showcasing every individual who has made a major impact would be difficult. Yet, across decades and eras, revolutions and wars, and discovery and enlightenment, SPART*A honors past and present LGBT figures in our history this month.


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  • commented 2013-10-08 12:12:53 -0400
    What an amzing career!