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NSA Historical Figures

James Bostic

Significant professional advancement for African-Americans in the machine division during the 1950s was limited, but James Bostic broke convention. In 1952 he left the Census Bureau and joined AFSA as a tabulating equipment operator. A gifted, largely self-taught, programmer and systems analyst, he became known as the "the Optimizer" during a career that paralleled the agency's advancements in computer technology. An early tour in ABNER 1 operations was followed by assignment as a programmer on ABNER 2 and as a software designer for a mass file storage and retrieval system. Before retiring in 1986, he led the terminal subsystem development team for a UNIX-based system.