In 1948, Erna Schneider Hoover graduated from Wellesley with a B.A. in history and philosophy, with specific emphasis on the ancient and medieval periods; she was a Durant Scholar and member of Phi Beta Kappa. She went on to receive a doctorate from Yale University in philosophy and the foundation of mathematics. Starting in 1951, Dr. Hoover taught philosophy and logic at Swarthmore College, leaving in 1954 when her husband took at job at Bell Telephone Laboratories in New Jersey. After the move, Dr. Hoover had difficulty finding a tenure track position open to a married woman and decided to take a job at Bell.
One of the few women in the company, and the first to be appointed as technical supervisor, Dr. Hoover directed Bell’s surveillance and control programs for the radar used in the Safeguard Anti-Ballistic Missile Defense System. In 1965, Bell announced its largest project in history, named the No. 1 Electronic Switching System, which was to revolutionize telephone communication. The patent for the system belonged to Dr. Hoover, who became one of the world’s first software patent holders. In 1978, she was appointed head of the technical department and spent the next decade working on software applications with a particular focus on Artificial Intelligence and IMS-IBM/Unix based systems communications. In 1987, after 32 years of service, Dr. Hoover retired.
A champion of affordable, quality public education, Dr. Hoover joined the New Jersey Board of Higher Education in 1983 and has served as chairperson of the Trenton State College Board of Trustees since 1980. The college’s president calls Dr. Hoover, “a tenacious, energetic leader,” and credits her with much of the college’s progress, particularly in the area of attracting and supporting female professors and staff. She was indicuted into the National Inventor's Hall of Fame in 2008.
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