(lighthearted instrumental music) - [Voiceover] We started in '62.
At the end of January in '64, we had a tiny mention in The Guardian newspaper, this extraordinary woman Steve Shirley writing computer programs in between feeding her baby and washing the nappies, and that was really the sort of phraseology that was used.
And that brought in a flood of women who had computer skills and liked the idea of working from home.
Not particularly bossy.
I was vulnerable, but a high-flyer, self-willed, undisciplined.
I was a beauty, and not so much an onboard, a one-off, one-off.
Nobody else quite like me.
My sister and I were put on a Kindertransport, one of ten trains leaving Germany and Austria.
It was a thousand children up to the ages of 16, and came to England with a very traumatic journey without nationality, 'cause Hitler had taken nationality away.
You were classed as Jewish I think if you were up to 1/6 Jewish.
And the feeling that my life was saved, and for a lot of my childhood, I was kept being reminded that my life had been saved.
"Aren't you lucky not have gone up in smoke "and all that sort of thing."
It has made me really convinced I have to make my life worth saving.
And each day you spend as if it would be your last, allowed me to cope with change.
And then, eventually welcomed change.
Now, I really like innovation, and that is, I think, come out in the fact that I've always worked in some aspect of research and done new things.
(gentle piano music) I did find the computer industry so, so fascinating.
It has some of the beauty of mathematics.
It has a lot of logic in it, a sort of puzzle element to it, made for a very fulfilling life, really.
You realized that you had actually created something.
If you like programming, it's marvelous.
If you don't like it, it's just one of those sort of mysteries in life.
I registered the name Freelance Programmers and aimed to build up some sort of little company.
I certainly had no idea it was going to be as big as it was, as important as it was.
We pioneered home working, job sharing, sort of flexible working, and that was just on the non-technical side.
We were just at the beginning of the software industry.
Nobody else was really out there.
We were competing against computer companies who didn't know much about software, and neither did I really because how long had I been working in software?
A few years.
I felt I wasn't really getting any responses from the letters that I was sending out offering services.
My husband actually suggested that perhaps it was good-ol' fashioned sexism.
They saw a letter from Stephanie Shirley, and it just went in the bin.
So, I started writing as Steve Shirley and the work did start slowly to flow in.
And I've been Steve ever since.
(lighthearted instrumental music) I've really moved towards trying to have some understanding of where the technology can impact life as distinct from what the technology is and the sort of social aspects of computing, computing in the field of disability, computers in the art, computer conservation.
And that theme has carried through.
During the difficult times in the business, rocking in my chair with the worry about how to get out of the current mess or whatever it was, I was strengthened by the idea that I was a survivor.
There was a solution, and it was up to me to find it.
I think my only big project really is that I have survived as a whole individual, and feel I have made my life worth saving.
And I'm very content with that.
(gentle synthesizer music)