The Villages - July 2021 - 47

Bright worked with other IBM employees, as
well as NASA staff who did calculations on the IBM
computers and machines at the research center.
Because computers still were a relatively new
technology at the time, many of the mathematicians
who did computational work for NASA were called
computers. Many of these human computers were
women, and there also was a contingent of AfricanAmerican
women who held the computer role - a
rarity for the segregation era of the 1950s and '60s.
Bright says their story was told through the book and
subsequent film, " Hidden Figures. "
Bright recalls a time the research center needed
some extra help with FORTRAN and they needed to
call an expert.
" One day, we had a problem with FORTRAN,
and the most knowledgeable person in the U.S. on
FORTRAN was a Black woman out of Chicago, so we
brought her in to help with the problem, " Bright said.
" The head of that location's I.T. department happened
to be a woman, so now I'm taking these two girls to
lunch in the middle of Lakewood, Ohio, and they
wouldn't seat us because of the Black woman. "
Fortunately, Bright knew how to handle the
situation.
" I asked for the manager, " he explained. " I said,
'Look, let me introduce her - she is the foremost
expert in FORTRAN that we're using at NASA for
space shots, and this is the director of computing at
NASA, and you wouldn't like to see their names in
the paper tomorrow saying they couldn't get seated.'
Immediately, they got seated. "
Bright earned a reputation for being diplomatic -
a trait that would come in handy after he left NASA
and went on to take marketing positions with IBM that
took him overseas to educate European employees and
businesses on how to operate their IBM systems.
" I loved the international stuff because you were
working with each country, " Bright said. " In the U.S.,
a lot of the marketing guys are Type A - you can't do
that in Europe. You've got to be a diplomat, you really
do. "
After spending a few years in Europe, Bright became
a Europe manager at IBM Boca Raton, where he
worked until retiring. Now, he has lived in The Villages
since 2004 and is a member of the IBM Retirees Club
of The Villages.
Through a long and rich career, Bright says he was
appreciative of a career that allowed him to travel all
around the world and be a part of history.
Below: Data Processing and Data Reduction at the NASA Ames Research Center, EMC. IBM 7090 Data Processing System. 1963
MAGAZINE
47
NASA FILE PHOTO

The Villages - July 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Villages - July 2021

Contents
The Villages - July 2021 - Cover1
The Villages - July 2021 - Contents
The Villages - July 2021 - 1
The Villages - July 2021 - 2
The Villages - July 2021 - 3
The Villages - July 2021 - 4
The Villages - July 2021 - 5
The Villages - July 2021 - 6
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The Villages - July 2021 - Cover3
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