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Months after the Japanese attack had devastated Pearl Harbor – and the United States was plunged headfirst into the Second World War – a secret military program was initiated, with the aims of attracting more women into the war effort. However, unlike the drive to recruit “Rosie” into the factories, this one targeted female mathematicians who would soon become the crucial human “computers” for the United States military.

Top Secret Rosies: The Female Computers of WWII , airing Wednesday, Feb. 2, 2011 at 10 p.m. on Eight, Arizona PBS , tells the story of these women and the technology that helped win a war and usher in the modern computer age. Featuring archival material and interviews with historians and academics, along with the recollections of the mathematicians themselves, the special shines a new light on this remarkable chapter of the Second World War.

At the time of the war, women were generally more educated than men. The conflict brought them a multitude of professional opportunities, including the mathematics program. Their top-secret work was carried out in what was called the Philadelphia Computing Section.

From the bombing of Axis Europe to the assaults on Japanese strongholds, work proceeded in round-the-clock shifts creating ballistics tables that proved crucial to Allied success. "Rosie" made the weapons, but the female computers made them accurate.   When the first electronic computer (ENIAC) was invented to aid the Army's ballistic calculation efforts, six of these women were tapped to become its first programmers.

The summer of 2010 marks the 65th anniversary of the end of WWII, yet the amazing account of the Top Secret Rosies: The Female Computers of WWII has remained largely untold…until now.

About Eight, Arizona PBS

Eight, Arizona PBS specializes in the education of children, in-depth news and public affairs, lifelong learning, and the celebration of arts and culture -- utilizing the power of noncommercial television, the Internet, educational outreach services, and community-based initiatives. The PBS station began broadcasting from the campus of Arizona State University on January 30, 1961. Now more than 80 percent of Arizonans receive the signal through a network of translators, cable and satellite systems. With more than 1 million viewers each week, Eight consistently ranks among the most-viewed public television stations per capita in the country. Arizonans provide more than 60 percent of the station's annual budget.

Eight is a member-supported service of Arizona State University.