Queer Tech History / Edith Windsor

Anna R.
October 18, 2023

From being known for her “top-notch debugging skills” to taking on the Defense of Marriage Act, Edith “Edie” Windsor has played a pivotal role in Queer tech history. Throughout her life, Edie’s activism spanned beyond the courtroom by participating in LGBTQ marches, serving on the board of SAGE, and volunteering for GLAD

After receiving her degree in mathematics from New York University, she began working at IBM. She continued to work at IBM for 16 years, where her work was primarily related to systems architecture and implementation of operating systems and natural language processors. She once told a journalist, “They couldn’t fix the code because they couldn’t read it. But I could read code until it wrapped around the room and back again. A guy I was working with said, ‘Give this woman a roll of toilet paper; she can do anything.” 

In 1975, she left IBM to become a founding president of PC Classics, a software firm specializing in software development projects. During this time, she helped countless LGBTQ organizations digitize their efforts and become more tech-literate. In 2010, Windsor filed a lawsuit against the federal government after being barred from claiming the federal estate tax exemption for surviving spouses after the passing of her longtime partner. In 2013, the Supreme Court ruled that Section 3 of DOMA was unconstitutional. Her case set a legal precedent and encouraged further challenges to discriminatory marriage laws, ultimately leading to the nationwide legalization of same-sex marriage in 2015.

In 2016, prior to her passing, Lesbians Who Tech launched the Edie Windsor Coding Scholarship Fund, which funds coding-school tuition for Queer and gender-nonconforming women and provides them with mentorship and other support systems. Edie’s legacy life and legacy lives on, with her contributions to tech and the LGBTQ community still being remembered by future generations. 

References & Resources 

Remembering Edie Windsor: Tech Pioneer, Equality Advocate


Edith Windsor, Whose Same-Sex Marriage Fight Led to Landmark Ruling, Dies at 88