Dame Steve Shirley
IT Entrepreneur & Philanthropist
Dame Stephanie "Steve" Shirley, DBE, FREng, FRSA, FBCS, is a British information technology pioneer, businesswoman and philanthropist. Shirley was born as Vera Buchthal to a Jewish father, a judge in Dortmund who lost his post to the Nazi regime, and a non-Jewish Viennese mother. At the age of 5 she arrived together with her 9 year old sister Renate in Britain unaccompanied in July 1939 as a Kindertransport child refugee. She was placed in the care of foster parents. In order to study mathematics which was not taught at the school, she received permission after assessment to take lessons at the local boys school. At the age of 18 she became a British citizen and changed her name to Stephanie Brook. In the 1950s she worked at the Post Office Research Station, building computers from scratch and writing code in machine language. She took evening classes for six years to obtain a degree in mathematics. In 1959 she moved to CDL Ltd, manufacturers of the ICT 1301 computer.