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Obituary: Carolyn Enlow, one of Sierra Online's first female coders

Obituary: Carolyn Enlow, one of Sierra Online's first female coders

November 27, 2018 | By Alissa McAloon

November 27, 2018 | By Alissa McAloon
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Carolyn Enlow, a programmer and likely the first woman to work in that discipline at Sierra Online, has passed away. She was 77.

Enlow picked up programming at the age of 40 by enrolling in a class at a nearby college, according to an extensive Twitter thread on her legacy compiled by researcher Laine Nooney. In a profile published shortly before her death, Enlow recalled that an instructor initially barred her and her then-husband Bob Box from taking the class due to their age, but the pair was eventually allowed to enroll after a show of persistence and a stand-out score on a practice test.

“I just took to programming. If they told us to write one program, I’d write three,” said Enlow. “A month before the class ended, Sierra Online, the computer video game company, moved up here and we basically just walked into their offices asking for a job and they hired us. We helped make educational games for kids. When the owner of the company, Ken, called my computer instructor as a reference, the instructor told him I was a genius. I’m not a genius; programming was just my forté.”

While not credited in the final game, Nooney believes that Enlow worked on Sierra’s 1983 educational game Learning with Leeper and departed the company by the end of that same year. From there, Enlow and Box moved into independent game development and released a game called Grabit Factory.

Levy notes Carolyn and Bob disputed w/ Ken re: criticism of a game theyd designed; they left the company to become independent software authors. They did release Grabit Factory, published by "Eric Software" out of Tulare. It was well reviewed in Softalk, Jan 1984.

— Laine Nooney @🗽🌇 (@Sierra_OffLine) November 27, 2018

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