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Instructions Not Included: How a Team of Women Coded the Future
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Instructions Not Included: How a Team of Women Coded the Future

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  116 ratings  ·  32 reviews
Click. Whir. Buzz.

Not so long ago, math problems had to be solved with pencil and paper, mail delivered by postman, and files were stored in paper folders and metal cabinets. But three women, Betty Snyder, Jean Jennings, and Kay McNulty knew there could be a better way. During World War II, people hoped ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer), one of the earli
Hardcover, 64 pages
Published October 8th 2019 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
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Alex  Baugh
Back in August, I reviewed a fun book called Cape (The Secret League of Heroes), in which three new friends discover they have superpowers and come to the rescue of the women who were working on a top-secret programmable computer called ENIAC in Philadelphia, in the hope that it could help win the war.

Now, in Instructions Not Included, meet three of the real women behind the computers that are so much a part of our daily lives. They are Betty Snyder, Jean Jennings, and Kay McNulty - three very d
Cindy Mitchell *Kiss the Book*
Instructions Not Included: How a Team of Women Coded the Future by Tami Lewis Brown and Debbie Loren Duncan, illustrated by Chelsea Beck. PICTURE BOOK. Disney, 2019. $18. 9781368011051



The computer life that we live now is due in large part to the women who programmed ENIAC – the first electric general-purpose computer. Even after their success with programming the machine, their continued efforts to streamline and improve computers
Tempe Public Library
This story is about three very different women with very different talents and one common one; all three are brilliant mathematicians. These women, Betty Snyder, Jean Jennings, and Kay McNulty lived in a time when math problems had to be solved with pencil and paper, mail delivered by the postman, and then stored in paper folders and metal cabinets.

Betty was inventive, Jean was consistent, and Kay was the perfectionist who didn’t make mistakes, and they come together in 1944 to program a compute
Apr 23, 2020 rated it liked it
Betty Snyder, Jean Jennings, and Kay McNulty all came from different backgrounds but had one thing in common: their understanding of math. Brought together during World War II, these three women were tasked to use their math skills to program ENIAC, one of the world’s earliest computers. With no instructions, the women set out to create a code for ENIAC that would prove a computer’s worth in both war and peace. But, programming a 13-ton machine with no prior knowledge, except math, was not easy. ...more
“Betty, Jean and Kay unleash their talents, share their secrets, pair their smarts with the computer’s speed. Exploring. Creating. Inventing.”

In 1944, three women called “computers” work at a secret lab at the University of Pennsylvania solving math problems with paper, pencil and adding machines. But upstairs, a machine (ENIAC) is being built that can calculate faster than humanly possible. But it is going to require mathematicians to “invent a way to tell a machine to perform complex calculati
Sandy Brehl
This portrayal of the original female programmers of room-sized ENIAC computer is an important example of ways in which gender barriers were broken during World War Ii. This belongs in any exploration of Rosie the Riveter, the early WAC (Women's Air Corps) and countless other lesser-told stories.
In this case the STEM links are enormous and important, not only because it confirms women as the ORIGINAL computer programmers, but also that they were superb mathematicians (human computers) whose rel
Mar 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing
When I was in school, I learned about the men who put computers in every home, but I didn't learn about the invaluable contributions of the women who made the machines work in the first place. I hope that's changing in schools today. Instructions Not Included is a wonderful story of three of those women. In addition to telling about the lives of the individual women and how they came together, it also excellently portrays the important role of collaboration, failure, and problem-solving in innov ...more
Erin Buhr
Nov 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I must admit, I was nervous when I picked this up. It is lengthy. Thick. That rarely bodes well for a picture book. Two pages in however I knew this was different. Impeccably paced and well written, this book is one you could easily read aloud despite the length and seemingly bland subject matter. These women were incredible and their work in coding reads as a vivid, exciting adventure on these pages. It is amazing how far we have come with computers in such a relatively short period and the rol ...more
Vicki Reilly
Nov 19, 2020 rated it liked it
Instructions Not Included follows 3 brilliant and innovator women mathematicians. They work together with other women in mathematics during World War II to help the military. The most important contribution is what they do, without instructions and recognition, to get the ENAIC computer up and running. They use their unique skill sets to help create the modern world. These books I on the 2020 Outstanding Science Trade Books list on the Children's Book Council. I listen to this read aloud on Yout ...more
Kris Dersch
This was quite good. It's long for a picture book and I thought it would overwhelm my kid but is an interesting story about the often forgotten women who did a lot of the work in early computer science, generally to have men take credit for what they did. The first couple of pages, where the authors are trying to take the reader back into the past, are a little bit clunky, they have this odd folksy voice that doesn't work so well for me, but it passes quickly and you are left to enjoy a really i ...more
Abby Johnson
When computers were first being developed, of course they didn't have instructions. And it fell to a team of women to figure out how to program the first computers. This book introduces three women - Betty Snyder, Jean Jennings, and Kay McNulty - whose work went on largely behind the scenes but without whose work, our lives would be incredibly different today. I still think it's completely fascinating to think about the women who first figured out how to program computers, since they are such a ...more
Melissa Mcavoy
4 1/2 stars. A very fine, well designed account of how three of the early NASA, women, computers developed modern programming and how each of the three profiled contributed a specific, ground-breaking element to modern computing. I am a technological imbecile and even I could understand what was so great about these three gals. I especially liked how the author and artist tied their contributions to aspects of their early life experience - i.e. precision and repetition to the pitcher.
Lara Samuels
Jan 19, 2020 rated it liked it
The stories are overly simplified to capture a young audience but it does refer to their work on computations for bombs and guns. The author’s note with primary source photographs increased the overall value of the book. It does refer to the hidden history of women but it missed the opportunity to include women of color which would have made it a must purchase. It is a nice selection if additional funds are available after purchasing more inclusive texts first.
Jun 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: daphne
Jean, Betty and Kay changed the world. But no one knows they’re names. They worked hard and problem solved to make their goals possible. I’m glad the book mentions that their bosses congratulate themselves but not the women. But the book also doesn’t dwell on it and turns back to the women’s inventions and that those innovations are still used in today’s computers.
Jul 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
A fabulous story of 3 amazing women who were among the country's first computer coders. I loved learning a little about their individual stories and how they brought their strengths together to accomplish such important work.
Travis Lynn
Nov 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
5 stars copyright 2019 genre biography theme empowerment. Favorite part of the book was how the book illustrated just how important these women were in creating the first computers. I will use this book to illustrate women in a job that is not typically associated with the female gender.
Chris Hays
This is a great book honoring those left behind by the history text books. I enjoyed the way the art was displayed, yet wish the more detailed text was not saved until the end. These 3 pioneers created steps and processes that led the exploration of machines working for us.
Viviane Elbee
Fascinating biographies of 3 women who helped program the ENIAC, one of the first computers. This picture book is aimed towards older elementary students because of its length and subject matter. The kids enjoyed it. Most appealing for fans of non-fiction, computers, math and STEAM subjects.
Tracy Smith
Nov 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
Really enjoyed learning about these amazing women in the field of mathematics and about their roles in the development of computers. Lost a star because the subjects were a little too complex for a typical picture book audience.
Dec 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
Information text about the three women who worked to make sure ENIAC worked. Brown presents their biographies from childhood through several innovations they developed to improve early computer processing.
Heidi Doyle
Feb 15, 2020 rated it liked it
In an age where computers were just beginning, three women help set the stage for programming language and so much more. I hadn’t heard about them before reading the book and it makes me want to learn more about each one.
Nov 05, 2020 rated it liked it
I and my 12yo friend read this and honestly we were both a bit confused. The blend between poetry and prose doesn't make the writing clear and some of the illustrations are off-putting.
Kirsti Call
Oct 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: publisher
Engaging and informative story of three brilliant women who were coding innovators.
Edward Sullivan
The story of the pioneering work in computer programming three women did in working with ENIAC.
Emily Bell
Nov 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Love this! The story makes maths and computers exciting and dramatic. The info at the end is very interesting too. Makes me feel proud of these women.
Amanda Walz
Feb 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
An interesting story of three women who worked on one of the first computers.
Miss Sarah
An elementary level biogrpahy of three female computer programmers( Betty Snyder, Jean Jennings, and Kay McNulty) who helped design computer languages.
Jill Lewis Smith
Aug 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: great-books
Great book for young and older readers! Introduction into understanding how a few women brought computers into our lives!
Debbie Tanner
This is a very interesting biographical story about three women who developed some of the coding procedures we use today.
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Tami Lewis Brown is the author of the novel The Map of Me and the picture book Soar, Elinor!, illustrated by François Roca. She holds an M.F.A. in writing for children from Vermont College and lives in Washington, D.C.

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