Barbara Blackshear, 77; had been a vice president of Xerox

Barbara Blackshear
Barbara Blackshear
Posted: February 16, 2013

Barbara Blackshear, 77, of Wynnefield, a pioneering career woman in computer technology who rose to be a vice president of Xerox Corp., died of cancer Saturday, Feb. 9, at her home.

Mrs. Blackshear began working with computers in the late 1950s at the Penn Mutual Life Insurance Co. She later spent more than 20 years with Xerox, where she became vice president for strategic planning. She retired in 2002.

She got her start in the emerging computer field in the late 1950s, when, while working in the actuarial department of Penn Mutual, she learned data processing on the job, said her husband, David Goodchild.

"She was there right at the beginning," Goodchild said. He said she worked on the IBM 1401, the company's first affordable general-purpose computer, in the early 1960s.

Mrs. Blackshear was born on Nov. 16, 1935, in Philadelphia, the daughter of Douglas Jackson and Edna Henson. She was raised in West Philadelphia and graduated from Philadelphia High School for Girls. She later studied at Rutgers University.

She was married to Donald Blackshear in the 1960s. The marriage ended in divorce.

During the 1960s she worked as a systems analyst for Great American Insurance Co. in New Jersey, and then Chase Manhattan Bank in New York.

Goodchild, her husband of 43 years, said he met her while she was working at Chase at 1:30 p.m. Sept. 29, 1969.

"I remember the date and time I met her. That day changed my life," Goodchild said.

Mrs. Blackshear also worked for Honeywell in New York. In 1971, she joined Xerox as a systems analyst.

A few years later, she moved back to the Philadelphia area to be a branch manager for Xerox in Fort Washington.

Mrs. Blackshear moved to Dallas in the early 1980s to work in marketing for Xerox.

In the mid-1980s, she moved to Palo Alto, in California's Silicon Valley, where she was a production manager for the Xerox 8010 computer, known as "Star."

"The high point of her career was when she went to Palo Alto," Goodchild said.

The Star displayed such technologies as bitmapped screens, a mouse-driven interface, and icons that distinguished it from other systems, according to Xerox.

The computer grabbed the attention of Apple Inc. founder Steve Jobs, Goodchild said.

He said that, at the behest of her superiors, Mrs. Blackshear "reluctantly" introduced Jobs to the Star computer. The Star influenced Jobs, whose company soon released its Lisa computer and later the Macintosh, according to Xerox.

Mrs. Blackshear later moved to Xerox operations in Stamford, Conn. She then spent several years traveling the world working in international sales for Xerox.

Outside of her work, Mrs. Blackshear enjoyed acting with her husband and others in an amateur thespian group called the Kludjian Theater Gang. She also liked gardening and keeping her family genealogy.

She was an avid reader whose home library contained 7,000 books, Goodchild said.

In addition to her husband, Mrs. Blackshear is survived by a brother, Donald Jackson, and several nieces and nephews.

Visitation is set from 7 to 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 15, at Bringhurst Funeral Home, 225 Belmont Ave., Bala Cynwyd.

Services and interment at West Laurel Hill Cemetery are private.


Contact Vernon Clark at 215-854-5717 or vclark@phillynews.com.

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