Lynn Conway

Computer Scientist

Electrical Engineer


Systems Architect

Research Leader

Engineering Educator

Adventurer & Visioneer

Translation status (Notes)

Reflections, Lynn's Adventuring, Education

The Many Shades of 'Out'  (print, more)

Mementos from Trans-Advocacy

Career Memoirs (MIT, ACS, VLSI, DARPA)

Lynn's VLSI Reminiscences  (more, more, more)

Special Issue of IEEE SSCM (

Emergence of Lynn's hidden STEM legacy

Advocating for women in STEM

Envisioning Adventures Ahead! 

The Incoming Wave of Innovation  (HuffPost)

Visioneering Journeys Thru Techno-Social Space-Time

[click photo to read articles (4 mb PDF)]  [click here for hi-res photo (more)]

Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Emerita

University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan

Member, National Academy of Engineering


About This Website

This webpage embeds an evolving visual 'hash-tableau’ in which linked-text/images dive-down into the 'Entangled' lattices, labyrinths, and vortices of techno-social-tracks left by the explorer-adventurers involved. Entering anywhere, you can find and follow their tracks and reverse-visioneer and meta-explore their techno-social space-time journeys. Occasionally resurfacing, you can rest/leave for a while, then return and look for other interesting places to dive down into. Once you get the gist of diving into and then surfing the outsides of these waves, you’ll begin noticing the embedded tracks that you yourself have been leaving out there in techno-social space-time. Before long, you’ll be looking for team-mates to train with, gear-up with, explore and trail-blaze new routes upon incoming techno-social waves on your own! Such is life, eh? – LC


"Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life" Steve Jobs

"Tell me, what else should I have done? Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?

Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" Mary Oliver

"The only thing I ever wanted to be an expert at was learning new thingsMelissa Pierce

When the pursuit of natural harmony is a shared journey, great heights can be attained” – Lynn Hill

"In a world of change, the learners shall inherit the earth, while the learned shall find

themselves perfectly suited for a world that no longer exists" – Eric Hoffer

"If you want to change the future, start living as if you're already there" Lynn Conway


My initial goal for this website was to illuminate and normalize the issues of gender identity and the processes of gender transition. This project began in the year 2000, as I struggled to "come out" about my past to my research colleagues. I wanted to tell in my own words the story of my gender transition from male to female three decades earlier, in 1968, and then of being outed by circumstances 31 years later, in 1999, while living quietly and successfully in 'stealth mode'.
Since beginning work on this website, I've come into contact with ever growing numbers of people concerned with gender issues. I've interacted via e-mail and in personal meetings with large numbers of people who are transitioning or who have transitioned. Given the still-remaining social invisibility, ignorance and superstitions about gender conditions, I've felt a strong need to provide whatever information, encouragement and hope that I can to help others who are struggling with these issues.
As a result of my contacts with thousands of TG/TS/IS people over the past few years, this website has evolved into a major informational and support site for transgender and transsexual people. The site now reflects years of field work and empirical research, and intensive efforts at framing and writing up the resulting observations regarding this previously almost invisible, highly stigmatized minority about which many superstitions still prevail.
This work has been conducted in the style of an investigative gonzo-journalist who is herself embedded in the "war zone" she's covering. The investigations, carried out in an arena swirling with new shifts in existing paradigms of thought, have been continually shaped and guided by very close interactions with hundreds of people who are themselves very experienced in these issues. Many of these individuals have shared in the creation of this website, by contributing valuable observations and practical information about gender transition, and by sharing keen insights and wisdom that they've gained from their own personal experiences.
The website is informal in structure and rapidly evolving as new information become available. I begin by first telling my own story, as best I can. That story, of someone who underwent gender transition earlier in life, illustrates that such transitions can turn out rather well in the long term. The story also provides personal vignettes relevant to the gender identity sections of this website:

 Lynn's Story  PDF


 Hobbies & Homelife

 BiographicalSketch  PDF2018

 Articles about Lynn

 Mackinac Island Wedding

 Lynn's Retrospective

 Research Impact  PDF

 Site Map & Links  

The website then presents an array of informational webpages and constantly updated reference links concerning gender identity and gender transition, in an effort to help others who may undergo such transitions. The site also links to webpages containing photos and stories of over 200 other people who've undergone complete gender transitions (both MtF and FtM). These many additional true-life "success stories" can provide encouragement, hope and role models for others, especially for the many young transgender and transsexual people who often feel so much fear and desperation about their futures. Experienced-based knowledge and real-world role models can go a long way towards easing the fears of these young people, helping them more confidently confront the challenges ahead of them, and illuminating pathways they can follow to build a full and joyful life:

 TG/TS/IS Gender Basics 

 Transsexual Women's Successes

 Facial Feminization Surgery


 Successful TransMen

 Sex Reassignment Surgery

 Transsexualism (MtF)

 TS Women's Resources

 College Transition Issues

 Prevalence of Transsexualism

 TG/TS/IS Links

 Life after Transition

I always welcome new ideas and practical information about these issues, as well as critical feedback about this website. Please feel free to contact me via e-mail at the address below if you have any ideas you'd like to share. Increasingly we transgender and transsexual women are speaking for ourselves, instead of fearfully hanging back while the old-time psychiatric establishment (Paul McHugh), sex-obsessed "sex researchers" (Ken Zucker, Ray Blanchard, J. Michael Bailey), talk-show comics, tabloid media and various conservative religions spread awful misinformation about us.
By openly sharing our stories and life-experiences, we can help build a more realistic knowledge of and genuine wisdom about transgender issues. We can also help society see us as the human beings we truly are. In the process we can enable more and more people to live fuller and happier lives in an increasingly inclusive, harmonious society.
Prof. Lynn Conway
University of Michigan
2717 BBB
, 2260 Hayward St.,
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-2121



Links to earlier key pages in website:

 Trans News Updates:

 2005-2015 news archive reveals how media spins

 and public attitudes evolved over time.

 Transitioning Early in Life:

 For information on childhood gender variance

 and teenage transitions, see this link.

Link to mainpage as of 2012



Reflections As My Trans-Advocacy Pages Pass into History

[See also "Mementos From Trans-Advocacy, below]


In the early 2000's, this website began providing gender transitioners with information, encouragement and hope for a better future. Among its most popular sections were the "Transsexual Women's Successes" and "Successful Transmen".  Back then, trans women especially were considered sexually-deviant and mentally-ill by prejudiced psychiatrists and psychologists. By compiling stories of those who went on to fulfilling lives after transition, the pages undermined the pathologization of gender variance by prominent psychiatric thought leaders – and provided role models and hope for the many people then in transition.

The site then documented opportunities for young transpeople to transition anonymously and successfully while in college, and encouraged universities to provide more supportive environments for these transitioners; as the decade progressed, such college-age transitions became increasingly common. The site also educated transwomen about the remarkable facial feminization surgeries (FFS) pioneered by Douglas Ousterhout, M.D. Although FFS involves expensive, invasive and painful maxillofacial reconstruction, it could significantly reverse facial-skeletal damages caused by gender-inappropriate pubertal hormones ‒ enabling many transitioned women to live more fulfilling lives. As more college-age transwomen obtained good educations and went on to better careers, increasing numbers were able to afford it.

The site also exposed, as a myth, the time-worn pronouncement that transsexualism is 'extremely rare'. For decades the psychiatric community had promulgated trans-prevalence numbers that were too small by a factor of ~100, thus hiding from the public the large numbers of transpeople who were suffering from discrimination, social marginalization and inadequate health-care. Worse yet, much of the discrimination against transpeople was itself caused by the very same psychiatrists' pronouncements that gender variance was a 'mental illness'.

In April of 2003, a wonderful woman named Sofia Iglesias translated the "Successes page" into Spanish, and we became good friends. Sofia went on to translate even more pages, to help young transitioners in her country Mexico and all across the Americas. As others saw the impact of Sofia's work, volunteers began translations into many other languages; the resultuing international translation project escalated rapidly in scope and coverage, bringing support to ever more trans-people around the world. 

During 2003-2006, the site became a focal point (along with Andrea James' TS Roadmap) for the investigation and exposure of the publication of J. Michael Bailey's transphobic pseudo-science book by the National Academies. The investigation led to Bailey's resignation as Chair of the Northwestern University's Psychology Department, and to his eventual decline into professional indiscretions, disgrace and obscurity. The Bailey fiasco became a defining moment in trans history by exposing psychiatric theories about gender variance to be absurdly unsound, including those of academic psychiatrist Paul McHugh, M.D., a prominent National Academy member.  Sadly the Academies never expressed regret for their misguided support and heavy-handed promotion of Bailey's malignant science ‒ giving us 'the silent treatment' instead. They did, however, quietly remove Bailey's embarrassingly unscientific book from the NAP website.

During 2006-2009, my site became a focal point for the investigation and exposure of Ken Zucker's trans-reparatist treatment of gender-variant children at CAMH in Toronto. Zucker had for years been the autocratic thought-leader behind the systemic psychological pathologization of gender variance.* As the site began exposing Zucker's activities, he became enraged and threatened a lawsuit in efforts to shut it down. I responded by exposing Zucker's threat (see video), triggering a tidal wave of trans-rebellion against what he was doing.

[*Note: Zucker's carefully-built facade as a 'scientific authority' was deconstructed in 2011-12 by the Ph.D. research of Y. Gavriel ('Gavi') Ansara and his faculty advisor Peter Hegarty in their quantitative empirical study "Cisgenderism in psychology: pathologising and misgendering children from 1999 to 2008", published in the journal Psychology & Sexuality.  Ansara and Hegarty's investigation documented that authors from mental health professions were significantly more trans-pathologising than authors from other professions, and identified Zucker as the leader of an 'invisible college' of group-think researchers who collectively-exploited such pathologising language to impose their discriminatory gender ideology on scientific thought about children's genders. In 2012, Ansara won the American Psychological Association's Transgender Research Award for this research.]

The site also promoted the movement towards supportive treatment of transgender children and teens, as dynamic groups such as Trans Youth Family Allies (TYFA) organized to help the families of such children.  By the late 00's, many young transitioners were succeeding way beyond expectations, especially those using puberty-delaying therapies pioneered by Norman Spack, M.D. so as to avoid gender-inappropriate pubertal changes prior to transition. This movement gained increasing traction amongst parents, counselors, physicians, and even school systems (including schools in Toronto, Zucker's home-base). It was clearly the wave of the future.

As work on my early trans-advocacy pages wound-down, I focused in on the Trans News Updates (TNU) to monitor ongoing changes in social and media attitudes about gender variance.  In a special TNU section I documented the increasing exposure of the pathologizing teachings of the psychiatric establishment, the increasing efforts to remove gender variance as a 'mental illness' from the DSM (the psychiatrists' bible), the exposure of Zucker's role in the institutionalized academic suppression of transpeople, and Zucker's advocacy of conversion-therapy on trans children and teens. During the ensuing period from 2009-2014 a wave of social consciousness began spreading wide and far about the horrors imposed by childhood gender conversion therapy.  For more about these events, see the brilliant exposé of the psychiatric superstition and malfeasance during this era compiled by Kelley Winters, Ph.D. in her GID Reform website, and in her book Gender Madness in American Psychiatry: Essays in the Struggle for Dignity.

In March 2015, the exponentiating revulsion against Zucker’s childhood conversion therapy triggered a public outcry in Ontario, prompting CAMH to review its controversial treatment of trans youth. Zucker’s world then began to fall apart. In June 2015, Ontario became first province to ban 'conversion therapy’ for LGBTQ children. In December 2015, CAMH ‘wound down’ its gender identity clinic services, closed Zucker's infamous reparative therapy clinic for transgender youth, and fired Zucker. Thus ended a tragic chapter in the dark-history of rogue 20th century social 'science'.

As I shifted into writing memoirs about my adventures, education and career (below), my earlier trans-advocacy pages finally passed into history (see archived pre-2012 mainpage). Even so, those pages still get many hits and are an ongoing source of hope for many people. We give thanks to the courageous transitioners who volunteered for early listing in the "successes" pages ‒ way back in 2000 when such exposure could have led to dangerous backlashes from reactionary transphobic people. Fortunately, those dark days have receded. Nowadays many tens of thousands of transitioners have not only moved on into happy and fulfilling lives, but are also open and proud about their life accomplishments.





Quoem re Adventuring:

"It's never too late to have a happy childhood." Tom Robbins

"A ship in port is safe, but that’s not what ships are built for." Grace Hopper

"You miss 100 percent of the shots you don't take." Wayne Gretzky

"Dare Mighty Things" Theodore Roosevelt


Transgender pioneer reflects on sports past
by Ross Forman, Windy City Times
September 18, 2013

Lynn Conway is a transgender pioneer whose longtime passion has been sports, particularly adventure sports. She's overcome two similar life obstacles (transitioning and a fear of heights) en route to her current state: a 75-year-old Michigan resident—reflective and respected, passionate and accomplished, innovative and intelligent.

"In a strange way, while rock-climbing years ago I was learning exactly what I needed to transition, learning how to overcome fear," Conway said. "Although scared of heights, I worked up to some modest climbing in Yosemite Valley—and passionately enjoyed it."

Conway, who lives west of Ann Arbor, has been married to Charlie since 2002; they have been together since 1988. The two were in Washington D.C., this past June for the President's White House Reception in celebration of LGBT Pride Month. Joy, hope and optimism carried throughout the event, filled with other activists, advocates and allies.

Conway has been out and a trans-rights advocate for 15 years, although her involvement with the LGBT community began decades earlier.

"When I went away to college in 1955, I was finally free to begin exploring—but it was very difficult," Conway said. "I thought I was gay [early on because] society was telling me I was. So I sort of randomly tried to find my way into the gay world, but that didn't work."

Enjoying sailing while in college, Conway was also drawn to rock climbing, finding joy in conquering her fear of heights a step at a time.

After earning her degrees at Columbia University in the early 1960s, Conway went west into a computer research career and into climbing in Yosemite and the Sierra Nevada. By then she knew what she had to do. She completed her transition in 1968 while living in San Francisco.

"Most of my transition mentors were trans-girls who were either sex workers or entertainers at places like Finnochio's," she said, reflecting on an era long past. "No way could I have been out back then and found a regular job. I didn't have the talent to be an entertainer, so I'd have ended up in sex work."

All along, sports were Conway's crutch, her supporting shoulder. The adventure sports were dangerous and difficult, but transitioning was as well. However, the sports were also exciting. "It's the learning that's fun, the exploring that's fun," she said.

Conway became a widely known computer pioneer while living in stealth after her transition. She also took up whitewater slalom racing and went on to motocross racing, sports that, no doubt, brought her back to summer camp, at age 10, in Maine.

"[Camp] was a transformative experience in my life because all at once I learned about things like making fires, hiking, camping, fishing, swimming, horseback riding, rifle shooting and more," Conway said. "It's what set off my tomboyish adventure-seeking."


Rock Climbing – Hiking and Backpacking – Physical Training – XC Skiing and Snowshoeing – 10K Running
Whitewater Canoeing and Slalom RacingMotocross and Supercross Racing
Adventure Hunting and Fieldcraft




Educational Reminiscences


Lynn's MIT Reminiscences:

A trip back in time: M.I.T. and the Charles River Basin as seen from Lynn's apartment in M.I.T’s Eastgate, 1978.  

 [Click on individual photos to access higher-resolution images.] 


"There’s always excitement in the air at MIT.  I first breathed that air in September 1955, as a 17 year old freshman moving into East Campus. As door after door of knowledge opened before me, I filled with feelings of empowerment. Those feelings soon extended into everything I did, whether sailing Tech Dinghy's on a blustery day, or rock climbing in the Quincy Quarries, or later-on when exploring New England on a motorcycle.

Starting out in Course-8 (Physics) I did well, making High Honors Dean’s List a number of times (MIT had Dean's Lists back then). But after taking the Course-6 (Electrical Engineering) circuits sequence, I became unsure of my goals. Partly it was the magic of the time. A huge paradigm shift was underway in pulse and digital electronic circuitry, triggered by the WWII tsunami of innovation at MIT’s Rad Lab.  

I’d also been inspired by brilliant young EE instructors like Dudley Buck, who enabled us to visualize at a glance the behaviors of devices and circuitry we were playing around with inside our minds. Now, instead of seeing electronics as infrastructure for doing physics, I glimpsed a vast world for exploration, abstraction and meta-architectural innovation – an insight heightened by MIT’s Norbert Weiner’s visionary writings on “cybernetics.”

I vividly recall Weiner trundling toward me one sunny day as I headed toward the Building 8 entrance. Although he was seemingly lost in thought, I tried to catch his eye, wondering what he saw inside his mind. Whatever it was, he was clearly still ‘doing it’ at an advancing age. A signal also rose above the noise: I was meant to do engineering after all.

But suddenly my whole world came crashing down. Unable to find any help, my intense efforts to resolve my lifelong gender-issues totally failed. Losing all hope of ever becoming a girl and living a meaningful life, I dropped out late in my senior year.  However, MIT had made its mark. I would instantly feel at home upon returning, two decades later . . . "

See full reminiscence at this link:  Lynn Conway, "MIT Reminiscences: Student years to VLSI revolution",, March 11, 2014.

See also related historical article:  Paul Penfield, "The VLSI Revolution at MIT", 2014 MIT EECS Connector, Spring 2014, pp. 11-13. (PDF of overall issue)


Dudley Buck

Norbert Weiner

MIT's East Campus Dorms


VLSI Design Lab

MIT'78 Chip Set

A classic MIT Hack

Lynn's Columbia University Reminiscences:
. . . TBD . . .


Mementos From Trans-Advocacy 

Quoem re Trans Advocacy:

Are you your own science project? Or someone else’s?” – Lynn Conway

Height has nothing to do with it, it is your strength that counts” – Lynn Hill

Go-Meta! When noticing something unusual, quickly ask yourself “What’s this an instance of?”

You’ll begin envisioning forests instead of merely seeing treesLynn Conway

"Numbers count, even if psychiatrists can't!" Lynn Conway

When Weirdness breaks out, don’t get upset . . . Do Science On It! Lynn Conway

Trapped inside their closed memetic system, the transreparatists never

noticed they’d become OUR objects of studyLynn Conway

“Let your plans be dark and impenetrable as night,

and when you move, fall like a thunderbolt.” – Sun Tsu

While outsiders watched 'The Houskeeper', I lived 'Djanga Unchained'

and at times channeled Zoë Bell in 'Death Proof'" Lynn Conway

First they ignore you, then they ridicule you,

then they fight you, and then you win.” ― Mahatma Gandhi


Andrea James, Lynn Conway, Calpernia Addams, Chicago, 7/19/03 (Link for Hi-Res)

Only during World War II did we begin to learn that anyone, anywhere in the world, might be listening.  And from that time on the anthropologist had to assume a new responsibility to speak – and of course write – about every people in the world, however remote, in ways that they, their friends and their descendants would find bearable and intelligible. Margaret Mead

Investigation of the Publication of J. Michael Bailey's Transphobic

Junk-Science Book by the U. S. National Academies, 2003-2006



VDAY LA 2004: The Vagina Monoloque/Beautiful Daughters

Deep Stealth Productions presented the V-Day 2004 Worldwide Campaign event for Los Angeles on Saturday, February 21st. In cooperation with the author, internationally-known playwright Eve Ensler, and under the auspices of Jane Fonda, this benefit performance featured the first ever transgender cast of "The Vagina Monologues," and included a new monologue written by Eve especially for this event.

This large-scale, mainstream event was a historic opportunity for the trans community to present ourselves in a positive, contributing light.  The performance showcased notable trans women reading Eve's beautiful monologues about the experiences of womanhood and the reclaiming of self through loving and respecting our bodies. The event also featured artistic, literary and musical contributions from trans women from around the country. Among the many women participating were: Calpernia Addams, Becky AllisonMarci Bowers, Lynn Conway, Andrea James, Donna Rose, Gwen Smith, Leslie Townsend, and many, many more...The V-Day Los Angeles event was held in Hollywood on Saturday evening, February 21, 2004 in the Silver Screen Theater at the beautiful Pacific Design Center.  A special keepsake publication for V-Day LA 2004 was produced as a remembrance of this wonderful event, and a documentary of the event, entitled "Beautiful Daughters", can now be seen on LOGOonline.

Reflections on V-Day Overview / About The Show / Cast and Bios / Videos / Photos      More about "Beautiful Daughters" in Lynn's site.


Exposure of Zucker's Trans-Reparatism, 2006-2009

“Drop the Barbie: Ken Zucker's reparatist treatment of gender-variant children”

by Lynn Conway

Zucker’s War on Transgenders

Zucker vs Conway, Round 1000

CBS News: Conway re Zucker



NWSA Conference-Panel, 2008: “Resisting Transphobia in Academia”

Online report by Lynn Conway

VIDEO; part2

VIDEO; part2; part3

 VIDEO; part2

 VIDEO; part2

 Q&A; part2



IFGE Conference-Panel, 2009

““Disordered” No More: Challenging Transphobia in Psychology, Academia and Society”

Online report by Lynn Conway

VIDEO VIDEO Julia's Book VIDEO Kelley's Book Luncheon



"Out to Innovate" 2012, 2014

The National Organization of Gay and Lesbian Scientists and Technical Professionals (NOGLSTP) and Out in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (oSTEM) presented “Out to Innovate 2012” at Ohio State University, connecting LGBT STEM students, academics and employers for career-development opportunities.  I participated in a plenary panel at OTI-2012, and two years later I Keynoted OTI-2014 at Georgia Tech. I encourage LGBT STEM professionals to join NOGLSTP and students to join oSTEM.  [Video]

OTI-2012: w Brynn Tannehill                              OTI-2014: Keynote Lecture                                OTI-2014




White House LGBT Reception, June 13, 2013

In 2013 I was invited by the President to attend a White House Reception in celebration of LGBT Pride Month, in acknowledgement of my trans-advocacy work. A wonderful event; the atmosphere was full of joy and hope for the future.  My husband Charlie was my guest and as you can imagine this was a very special experience for us. The following month I published reflections on the event, entitled "The Many Shades of 'Out'."



Advocating for full LBGT inclusion in IEEE's Code of Ethics
September 3, 2013 – January 8, 2014



2015: The Paradigm Shifts, Upending Conversion-Therapy on Trans Children and Teens.

Zucker is Formally Investigated: He's Fired and his CAMH Gender Clinic is Closed!



The Bottom Line:

Beware Obsessively-Manipulative Organized-Superstition Lynn Conway




Career Memoirs

Quoem re Career Memoirs:

e + 1 = 0   Leonhard Euler

"Mathematics is an experimental science, and definitions

do not come first, but later on" Oliver Heaviside

Imagination is more important than knowledge . . .” Albert Einstein

Choose a problem that "irrationally grips you by the imagination,

else nothing remarkable can be expected to happen." – Arthur T. Winfree 

If you do not expect the unexpected, you will not recognize it when it arrives” – Heraclitus

"Go off and do something wonderful." Robert (Bob) Noyce

It is the story that matters not just the ending. Paul Lockhart

"Rumor was that somebody named Conway had gone off the reservation,

slipped up the river into Cambodia, and was spreading unsound methods" Lynn Conway

"If MPC79 didn’t work my name would be Kurtz’d. Lynn Conway

Lynn and her husband Charlie, 2010

[click photo for higher-res version (more, more, more, more)]


During the early 2010's, I began sketching reflections on my experiences in engineering. I'd learned many lessons during my work at IBM-ACS in the 1960's and the 'Mead-Conway' VLSI revolution in the 1970's.  I hoped to illuminate those experiences in memoirs before time ran out, believing lessons-learned back then might prove useful to young engineers in the future. 

Times had also changed enough to seriously begin this work. The widespread internet-based trans-advocacy of the 00's had had great impact: The pronouncements of leading American psychiatrists on gender variance were exposed as 'unsound'.  Laws changed, employment opportunities opened up, and the political landscape brightened. Transpeople emerged from the shadows, taking their rightful places in society. My long-ago transition was no longer the 'elephant in the room', blocking people from seeing the career-story looming beyond. It was time to return to my intellectual roots in science, mathematics and engineering, time to share what I can about such things.


Lynn's IBM-ACS Archive and Reminiscences:

I was hired by IBM Research right out of graduate school and soon joined what would become the IBM Advanced Computing Systems (a pioneering supercomputer project),  just as it was forming in 1965. It was a golden era in computer research, a time when fundamental breakthroughs were being made across a wide front.

The well-distilled and highly codified results of that and subsequent work, as contained in today’s modern textbooks, give no clue as to how those breakthroughs ‘came to be’. Lost in those texts is all the excitement, the challenge, the confusion, the camaraderie, the chaos and the fun – the feeling of what it was really like to be there, at the frontier, at that time. In this, my first foray into memoir writing, I hoped to bring some of that thrill back to life. This effort was also essential preparation for writing the follow-on VLSI memoir. The reason was that I'd gained many valuable scientific and engineering insights while at ACS, and had drawn heavily upon those insights during my later VLSI research.

Many questions also lingered about what had happened at ACS.  I wondered what ‘inside-explanation’ had been used within IBM to rationalize the project's cancellation in 1968. Did the managers who killed the project not realize that my "dynamic instruction scheduling" (DIS) invention had been included in, and had greatly empowered, the machine design? Then too, why did IBM fail to patent DIS and fail to exploit it in their later computers? Was it possible that several rather influential ACS researchers did not understand what DIS was? Much less how it worked, or who had invented it? If so, how could that be? And why was I fired so suddenly, once IBM’s Corporate Executive Committee (i.e., IBM's President and CEO T. J. Watson, Jr.) learned about my upcoming gender transition? That firing seemed impulsively executed, as if in hot-anger. What on earth was that all about?

I launched an investigation in early 2011 to finally begin answering those questions and more. I was fortunate to have access to extensive ACS historical files compiled by Mark Smotherman of Clemson University, along with my own archive of original ACS documents, plus valuable evidence that had emerged onto the internet over the years. My ACS colleague Brian Randell also had many questions about the project, which had been cancelled just as he had predicted early-on in the project. Collaborating closely via Skype, we happened upon and shared lots of additional evidence, and began making sense out of it all. The findings so far are fascinating indeed, as you’ll discover in the resulting memoir. Among other things, we uncovered that T. J. Watson, Jr. was a rabid homophobe.

While that work was underway, I was invited by John Lloyd to contribute a chapter to a Festschrift honoring Brian on his 75th birthday. It was published in November 2011. In addition to my ACS memoir, the Festschrift contained fascinating chapters by many prominent computer scientists, including Gordon Bell, Peter Denning, Tony Hoare, Dave Parnas and many more:

Lynn Conway, “IBM-ACS: Reminiscences and Lessons Learned from a 1960’s Supercomputer Project”. A chapter in: C. B. Jones, J. L. Lloyd, (Eds.), Dependable and Historic Computing: Essays Dedicated to Brian Randell on the Occasion of his 75th Birthday, Springer-Verlag, Berlin, 2011, pp.185–224.






The VLSI Archive:

As we reflect on the past with friends and family, we often use photo albums to share our memories – memories that bind us together and reveal how we got to where we are. But what about our careers? Although the results of our work may linger, mementos of adventures along the way are often lost in the rush of events. Only too late do we realize what we 'should have saved'.

It was different for the VLSI revolution in microelectronics; perhaps it was the exciting visual artifacts, or the shared-sense of breaking new ground. Whatever the reason, many participants saved old treasures from those years (1976-1980) – research notes, prototype silicon chips and chip photos, even huge color check plots – and stored them away for decades. During 2008-2010, members of the original VLSI research team, along with colleagues in academia and industry, began gathering up, scanning and photographing such artifacts – and then posting them online. The resulting VLSI Archive (more, more) helped bring those exciting days back to life. That mass of primary historical evidence also provided a great starting-point for a memoir, with the online VLSI Archive Spreadsheet enabling easy group-access to its wide array of contents. This large archive of original artifacts and documents from the VLSI revolution was pivotal in enabling me to begin writing my VLSI Reminiscences in 2011-12.








Lynn's VLSI Reminiscences:

In 2010, Dave Hodges, the Daniel M. Tellep Distinguished Professor of Engineering Emeritus at U. C. Berkeley, graciously invited me to write a memoir about the VLSI revolution for a special-issue of IEEE Solid-State Circuits Magazine (SSCM). Although many myths had arisen about the 'Mead-Conway' work, this was the first time in thirty years that any of my peers had asked me to explain what had happened back then. It was a nice coincidence in timing, for I’d already begun drafting some sketches about the work.

However there was a problem: The VLSI work had drawn heavily on key scientific and engineering insights I’d gained while at IBM-ACS. I felt a need to document those foundational experiences before immersing myself in writing about VLSI. Many questions also lingered about what had really happened at ACS, questions that needed answering before writing about later work. Thus it was that I began writing an ACS memoir in early 2011. This involved some rather interesting detective work, and along the way I stumbled onto many answers. The resulting ACS memoir was published in the fall of 2011 (see below).

I then shifted to writing about the VLSI revolution, building on the mass of original evidence contained in the VLSI Archive, and interacting with and getting feedback from many VLSI vets. The resulting memoir was published in the IEEE-SSCM in December 2012, along with insightful commentaries contributed by Chuck House, former Director of Engineering at HP, Carlo Séquin, Professor of EECS at U.C. Berkeley, and Ken Shepard, Professor of Electrical Engineering and Biomedical Engineering at Columbia University. The memoir and commentaries are posted at the following links [those in the VLSI archive include embedded links]:

IEEE Solid State Circuits Magazine, VOL. 4, NO. 4, FALL 2012: Front Cover; Table of Contents; Society Listing; Contributors; Editor's Note, by Mary Lanzerotti; (PDF 4mb); UM EECS Department Posting.

Lynn Conway, “Reminiscences of the VLSI Revolution: How a series of failures triggered a paradigm shift in digital design” (SSCM, more, references, timeline)

Chuck House, “A Paradigm Shift Was Happening All Around Us” (SSCM)

Carlo Sequin,  “Witnessing the Birth of VLSI Design" (SSCM)

Ken Shepard,  ““Covering”: How We Missed the Inside-Story of the VLSI Revolution” (SSCM)

As you explore the unfolding VLSI saga, 'go-meta' and think of it as a 'case study'. By doing so, you'll gain perspective on the processes involved in engineering exploration, innovation and paradigm shifting ‒ and on the critical roles that tool-building, exploratory design, rapid-prototyping and the actual 'making of things' play in such events.



Quoem re 'Doing Demos':

When I grasped the meta-meaning of Doug Englebart’s 1968“Mother of All Demos” it set my mind afire Lynn Conway

I later conceived and orchestrated MPC79 as the “Godmother of All Demos.”

However, MPC79 went off so perfectly that only I knew it was the exploratory demonstration-operation

of a self-bootstrapping, self-propagating, paradigm-shifting, techno-social dynamical-system.

Everyone else just reflexively used and built on it, clueless to what it even was,

much less how it'd been created and who’d done that.” – Lynn Conway

We shape our tools and then our tools shape us.” – Marshall McLuhan


Reminiscences of DARPA's Strategic Computing Initiative, DOD and USAF ('80s,'90s) and D60 (2018):



                         See p.93-102




Lynn’s Plenary-Talk VIDEO and PDF                     Lynn's D60 Speaker Bio                       MTO/ERI D60 Plenary Panel VIDEO



The Late-Emergence of Lynn's Hidden Career Legacy, 2013-present:



Computer History Museum Hall of Fellows, 2014
2015 Steinmetz Memorial Lecture, Union College
IEEE/RSE James Clerk Maxwell Medal, 2015
From the IEEE/RSE Maxwell Medal citation:“Her influence on modern electrical engineering is deep and profound, arguably on the scale of Armstrong and Steinmetz.”
 Video of RSE Medal Ceremony                  Lynn's Lecture Slides                                               Times story by M. Linklater     Maxwell Medal Citation      Review of Lynn's Lecture
  Doctor of Engineering (Hon.Causa), University of Victoria, Nov. 9, 2016                                                                                                          Fellow of the AAAS, Oct. 2016

Awarding of Degree (video)                            Orator's Introduction              Event Poster                Lynn's Comments                                             Photos                                  AAAS Member Spotlight                      

Doctor of Science (Hon.Causa) and Commencement Address, University of Michigan, Dec. 16, 2018

    Announcement                        Citation                               Recipients' Video-Sketches                               Commencement Address Video                            Transcript of Address

New York Times
Los Angeles Times
Washington Post (Lily)

IBM Apologizes to Lynn, 52 years  later!

IBM Senior VP Diane Gherson and Lynn Conway
In conversation during the special IBM online-event.
October, 14, 2020.
Michigan Daily
Pink News
New York Post
NY Daily News


Advocating for Women's Full Inclusion and Recognition in STEM:


"Well-behaved women seldom make history"  Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

When Weirdness breaks out, don’t get upset . . . Do Science On It! Lynn Conway

  • NSF 2015 LGBT Pride-Keynote:


               NSF Pride Site                                    Keynote Brochure                             Video/Audio                         Slideshow                                             

    Since I didn’t look like an engineer,

    Silicon Valley had no clue what I REALLY DID during the 70’s! 

    The Times, UK 11/14/15            Cryptic Tweet             El Diario, Spain 5/11/16           100W100D, 2016             O4U  Conf. Keynote, Stanford, 2016      
    "The Disappeared: Beyond Winning & Losing", 2018          University Lecture,Syracuse Univ., 2019            UC Davis NSF ADVANCE Seminar, 2019           


    Geek Heresy: Rescuing Social Change from the Cult of Technology,

    Weapons of Math Destruction, Technically Wrong ...Toxic Tech, Brotopia, Techlash, Overlooked, #MeToo


                SXSW (2018)            Panel Notes                           WIE ILC                    AI Titanic (2018)           Sheltering (2018)             WiComms (2018)     


    Envisioning Our Journeys Through Techno-Social Space-Time:


                 Steinmetz Lecture Slides (2015)                     Steinmetz Lecture Video                        Maxwell Lecture Slides (2015)                         Maxwell Lecture Video                  
    Magill Lecture Slides (2016)                       Lynn presents the Magill Lecture                       Magill Lecture Review                          


    An artist is the person who lives in the triangle which remains after the angle which we may call

    common sense has been removed from this four-cornered world.” ― Natsume Sōseki

    I begin to fathom the sound and the fury, of the world and of history: the noise.” ― Michel Serres


    What is Wild? and why it matters ...” –  Rick Darke

    We’re natural born explorers.” – Dodd Mitchell

    Playing is Adventuring is Exploring is Innovating is Designing is Engineering is Architecting is Art.” – Lynn Conway

     How can you motivate yourself to continue to follow a leader

     when he appears to be going around in circles?” – Andy Grove

    We cannot direct the wind, but we can adjust the sails” – Bertha Calloway

    If you want to build a ship, don't drum up people to collect wood and don't assign them tasks and work,

    but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry 

    Underestimated, they'll let you in ... clueless to what you’re up to.” – Lynn Conway

    Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world ... Margaret Mead

    Play the game for more than you can afford to lose ... only then will you learn the game. Winston Churchill 

    "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro" Hunter S. Thompson

    Go-Meta and Visioneer a Techno-Social Dynamical-System! Lynn Conway

    My [algebraic] methods are really methods of working and thinking;

    this is why they have crept in everywhere anonymously.  Emmy Noether

    "What works, works!"Lynn Conway


    Click on image for full size poster . . . Poster art by  Draper Lab

    The Universal Shapes of Stories” – Kurt Vonnegut

    (more, infographic, video)

    Klaatu barada nikto” – ‘Helen Benson

    (in The Day the Earth Stood Still)

    "Thanatopsis" William Cullin Bryant

    Cato Maior De Senectute” – Cicero



    [Update of 8-12-22]