Pioneer in Computers to be Inducted Into USAO Alumni Hall of Fame
A pioneer in computer technology who’s roots go back to the Oklahoma College for Women, Nan Nabors Reynolds will be honored for her accomplishments as she is inducted into the USAO Alumni Hall of Fame on Nov. 8. The ceremony is part of Alumni Homecoming at the University of Science and Arts Nov. 7-9.
Reynolds will be honored along with three other inductees during the ceremony. Registrations still are being accepted for all USAO alumni at the USAO Alumni Development office, (405) 574-1290. Registration packages for the weekend begin at $40 per person with an all-inclusive package for $50 per person, which includes all meals.
Nan Nabors Reynolds’ work in early computers ensured her a spot as one of the pioneers of computer science and technology. She was born in Alabama, but moved to Chickasha when she was 3. She graduated from high school at Friend.
Reynolds was one of 10 siblings, nine of which attended OCW. She graduated from OCW in 1938, majoring in mathematics. She received her master’s degree from Oklahoma State University in 1940.
Reynolds taught courses as part of the Army Specialized Training Program. She enlisted in WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Services) in 1944. Her service in WAVES included an assignment in Corpus Christi, Texas where she assisted with Radio-Radar Project Engineers. Several of Reynolds’ correspondences from her days in WAVES are a part of the Women’s Veterans Historical Collection at the Jackson Library on the campus of the University of Greensboro, North Carolina.
Reynolds later became an associate engineer in aerodynamics research at Douglas Aircraft in Santa Monica, Calif. Reynolds was a professor of math at Oklahoma State University, Oregon State, Stanford, Baylor and Harvard. She worked at Boeing Aircraft in Seattle, Wash. for 10 years.
During the 1950s, her reputation as one of the world’s elite mathematicians impressed the faculty at UCLA. The university invited her to work on one of the nation’s first computers. She was commissioned to experiment with early computer technology. The computer she helped build took up an entire wall and could perform few tasks. While the computer isn’t considered the first, she was among a handful of intellectuals across the nation commissioned to experiment with early computer technology.
The project ensured her spot as one of the pioneers of computer science. Microsoft’s Bill Gates sent her a birthday card in Oct. 2007 thanking her for her role as a pioneer in computer technology. For 10 years she was a housewife in Germany while her husband taught math and conducted research.
“She has always said that Chickasha is her favorite town and the best college she attended was the Oklahoma College for Women,” said Jacque Rollyson, Reynolds’ niece and guardian. “Our whole family has always been proud of Nan, but for her, none of this is a big deal. She doesn’t feel like she has accomplished anything extraordinary. But she did do something extraordinary. She was a pioneer in mathematics. She understands things I couldn’t even begin to understand.”