When Ellen Ullman moved to San Francisco in the early 1970s and went on to become a computer programmer, she joined a small, idealistic, and almost exclusively male cadre that aspired to genuinely change the world.
Since then, we have seen a drastic transformation of our economy and society through the rise of the internet, the development of artificial intelligence, and the ubiquity of once unimaginably powerful computers. Through it all, Ellen Ullman lived and worked inside the evolving culture of technology. Her new book, Life In Code: A Personal History of Technology, tells the continuing story of these changes with a unique, expert perspective. This conversation is an opportunity to learn more about her time at the forefront of technology in Silicon Valley, her personal reckoning with technology’s loss of innocence as it entered the cultural mainstream, and her life since then as an essayist and novelist. Life in Code is an essential text toward our understanding of the last twenty years?and the next twenty.
Ellen Ullman wrote her first computer program in 1978. She went on to have a 20-year career as a programmer and software engineer. Her essays and books have become landmark works describing the social, emotional, and personal effects of technology. She is the author of the memoir Close to the Machine, and the novels The Bug and By Blood. Her new book, Life In Code: A Personal History of Technology, tells a continuing story of the technical world as she experienced it while living in its midst for over two decades. She divides her time between San Francisco and New York.