In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, we want to celebrate the life stories of some true trailblazers in the world of computer science. These seven men and women played an integral role in the development of the modern computer technology the world relies on today.

Among these names you might find familiar ones such as NASA physicist Katherine Johnson, whose life story is the basis of the critically acclaimed film Hidden Figures. But you’ll also find a behind-the-scenes “godfather” of Silicon Valley, key players in many computer hardware and software breakthroughs, and the founder of Black Girls Code, all contributors to the tradition of Black excellence in computer science. We hope our brief highlights of each person inspires you to learn more about them and how their work changed the world.

7 Black Pioneers in Computer Science

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We would be remiss if we didn’t also honor our own Mikey Butler. Mikey was a VP of Engineering at New Relic until his passing in late 2019. Mikey was not only a trailblazer in technology, but he was also an amazing and inspiring leader, coach, and mentor. We all miss him dearly and invite you to learn more about his life by reading our Q&A blog series from 2016.