Wilkes, Mary Allen

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Wilkes, Mary Allen

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  • Wilkes, M. A.
  • Clark, Mary Allen

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Mary Allen Wilkes was born in Chicago in 1937 to Rex B. and Bernice Wilkes. Her father was a minister. She earned degrees in philosophy and theology at Wellesley College in 1959 and in law at Harvard Law School in 1975. (Mary Allen Wilkes, 2020)

Her original goal was to be a lawyer but her mentors in college all told her the same thing: Don’t even bother applying to law school. In college, she learned that computers were the key to the future and she remembered the advice her geography teacher gave in 1950. “Mary Allen, when you grow up you should be a computer programmer. After graduation, she went over to the Lincoln Lab at MIT and got a job as a computer programmer. (Thompson, 2019).

As a computer programmer at MIT from 1959- 1961, she worked on mainframe computers such as the IBM and the DEC (Digital Equipment Corporations. But in 1961, MIT promoted her and assigned her to the LINC development group headed by engineers and designers. Wesley Clark and Charles Molnar. She was one of a large team of people who helped develop the LINC (Laboratory Instrument Computer) . Her role was to write software for the LINC including an operating system or Line Assembly Programs (LAP). Her LAP to LAP6 were the earliest interactive operating systems for a personal computer.

Most of the LINC development group moved to Washington University in St. Louis in April of 1963. Jerry Cox recruited them when Hallowell Davis wanted him to build a computer to measure evoked potentials in the laboratory to determine what Deaf children could hear. Jerry Cox, found out that the LINC could do this. When Cox talked to the LINC development team he learned that they didn't like working for MIT.

After working in computer field for 11 years, she began a new career as a lawyer. She and her husband Wesley Clark, moved to Boston where she entered Harvard Law School in the Fall of 1972. Wesley Clark started a consultant group. She practiced law in the Boston area for over 35 years, including practice as a trial lawyer, an Assistant District Attorney for Middlesex County, an arbitrator for the American Arbitration Association and an instructor in the Trial Advocacy Workshop at the Harvard Law School.


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Clark, Wesley A. (1927-2016)

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Clark, Wesley A.

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Wilkes, Mary Allen

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Wilkes, M. A. LINC III Order Code, July 31, 1963. FC186-S01-ss03-B04-F01 Folder, Part of Wesley A. Clark Papers
Clark, Mary Allen. China Diary. Washington University Magazine Vol. 43, No. 1. Fall 1972. FC186-S02-ss01-B09-F13 Folder 1972, Part of Wesley A. Clark Papers

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