The story of Evelyn Berezin’s decision to start the Redactron Corporation begins with one of those anecdotes that seems unbelievable today. The computer programmer had received a prestigious job offer from the New York Stock Exchange—only to have the offer rescinded because the position would have required her to visit the stock market floor from time to time, and she would hear “language on the floor not for a woman’s ears.”
This incident frustrated Berezin, and, as she recounted in this 2015 interview for the Computer History Museum, she realized the only way for a woman to rise to the top at a tech company was to start it herself. So she did.
In 1969, the Redactron Corporation opened its doors on Long Island, with the goal of revolutionizing word processors and making the job of the secretary easier. IBM had been producing word processors, but Big Blue’s options didn’t rely on semiconductor chips. The Redactron Data Secretary was 40 inches tall, didn’t have a screen, and incorporated an IBM Selectric typewriter.
Secretaries could now easily cut, paste, and edit text. Within a year, Redactron had gone public and grown from 10 to 500 employees. In 1976, the company was acquired by the Burroughs Corporation. (Check out this Ms. Magazine ad for the Data Secretary.)
The Data Secretary wasn’t Berezin’s only tech contribution
In 1962, she had developed a United Airlines reservation system with a one-second response time, and the system lasted 11 years without a single central system failure. She also designed magazine subscription systems and programs to calculate gun firing ranges.
Berezin died Dec. 28, 2018, at age 93.
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