January 31st, 2023 Revature

5 Black software engineers that should be household names

Black tech professionals have contributed to some of the most innovative developments in technological history. Black talent is responsible for the development of 3D graphics, GIFs, video streaming and GPS. As an organization committed to unlocking opportunity and creating a more equitable tech workforce, it is our responsibility to draw attention to and celebrate the accomplishments of Black developers. In an industry marked by the underrepresentation of Black professionals, we have a responsibility to shine a light.

The following 5 Black tech professionals are only a small sample of the thousands of individuals who are shaping the technology we use and the world as we know it today.

Roy Clay Sr.

Roy Clay Sr was writing code before we called it “writing code.” In 1963 he was writing “computer language,” and his work was so revolutionary that it caught the attention of David Packard, of Hewlett-Packard, who recruited him to set up the computer development business at what is now HP. He established the software development facility, managed the computer division and guided the company’s emergence as an HP Computer company4. He left HP in 1979 to start his own company after identifying the opportunity to transform safety devices related to PCs.5 His company was a success and at one point was the largest employer of Black tech talent in Silicon Valley5 Roy Clay Sr. is honored in the Palo Alto Museum as the Godfather of Silicon Valley6.

Dr. Gladys Mae West

Dr. West is a mathematician and computer programmer who’s work directly contributed to the ubiquitous use of GPS today7. She graduated college in 1952, looking for work in government in a segregated Virginia. She got her master’s degree and relentlessly pursued her path until offered a job in 1956 by the U.S. Naval Weapons Laboratory, where she worked her entire career.

Throughout her 40+ year career she contributed to many groundbreaking projects, including the construction of the geoid – a mathematical model of the earth’s shape. This development set the stage for GPS. She was inducted into the Space and Missiles Pioneers Hall of Fame in 20188.

Lisa Gelobter

While Lisa Gelobter’s name is yet to reach house-hold recognition status, her accomplishments are quite familiar. She is credited with developing the technology behind the GIF9, and worked on industry-leading video streaming technologies including Hulu and Brightcove10. She served as the Chief Digital Service Officer for the U.S. Department of Education during the Obama administration11.

Today, Lisa Gelobter is the CEO and Co-founder of TEQuitable, a company using technology to make workplaces more equitable. She has been recognized by Fast Company as one of the World’s Most Creative People12.

David R. Hedgley, Jr.

Mr. Hedgley is better known by his nickname, The Father of 3D Graphics. While working at NASA in the 1980s, he developed an algorithm that is still used today to display 3D graphics across a wide variety of mediums, including video games and websites13. He published a paper explaining his solution and was met with criticism in the field.

In a 1986 interview with Ebony Magazine, he reflected on the institutional racism he faced: “being a Black man, your credibility is questioned anyway.” After over a year, Hedgley’s algorithm was finally widely recognized as a breakthrough in computer graphics14. This contribution to technology is one of dozens of problems he solved over the course of his career at NASA that spanned several decades.

Trish Millines Dziko

Trish Millines Dziko was one of Microsoft’s first Black employees and an early pioneer of advocating for more diverse workforce in corporate America. She worked in the high-tech space for over 15 years as a software developer, manager and consultant1.

In 1989 she was a founding member of Microsoft’s first Black employee resource group, Blacks at Microsoft3. She left Microsoft and co-founded the Tech Access Foundation, and organization with a mission to “build collaborative relationships with public education to create access to transformative systems of learning for students and teachers of color to eliminate race-based disparities in an increasingly diverse society.”2 Today, she’s a TED speaker and leader in her community as the executive director of the organization she co-founded.

While Black History Month provides the opportunity to have a conversation about these leaders and celebrate them, we seek to support the growing Black tech community year-round. Our talent acquisition program focuses on attitude and aptitude over anything else.

This approach creates more equitable opportunities and increases the number of minorities in our workforce. In 2022, 16% of Revature team members were Black. This is over 2x the national average in high tech jobs.

To ensure we proactively address the historic disparity of Black people in tech jobs, we’ve partnered with the Thurgood Marshall College Fund and OneTen to continue this work. Click here to learn more about hiring tech talent with Revature, and click here to learn about starting your career with Revature.


Trish Millines Dziko
Trish Millines Dziko and Jill Hull Dziko opened TAF’s doors.
Honoree: Distinguished Alumni Award 2007 Monmouth University Founders’ Day
Roy Clay Sr., The Godfather of Silicon Valley
From Ferguson To Silicon Valley: A Black Pioneer Gives Back
Moments in History: Roy Clay Sr.
Dr. Gladys West
Mathematician inducted into Space and Missiles Pioneers Hall of Fame
Celebrating Lisa Gelobter- The Foremost Scientist Who Laid Groundwork For Gif
Lisa Gelobter
African American Inventors Who Left Their Mark in History
Lisa Gelobter – LinkedIn
David Rice Hedgley Jr.
David R. Hedgley, Jr.