Spertus grew up in Glencoe, Illinois, where she attended New Trier High School. At MIT she received a B.S. in Computer Science and Engineering (1990), a master's degree in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (1992), and a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (1998). She spent several summers between terms working for Microsoft.
Spertus has written articles treating both technical and social subjects, often combining the two. She was profiled in a 1993 New York Times article about "women who might change the face of the computer industry" and in a follow-up article in 2003. In 2001 she was named "The Sexiest Geek Alive".
Since January 2009, Spertus has spent her time at Google working on App Inventor for Android, a block based development platform with a graphical user interface that lets developers and amateurs alike create applications for Android. In May 2011, O'Reilly Media published App Inventor, which Spertus co-authored with David Wolber, Hal Abelson, and Liz Looney.
- "Ellen Spertus's CV". Retrieved 2011-12-11.
- Katie Hafner (1993-08-29). "Woman, Computer Nerd -- and Proud". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-03-01.
- Katie Hafner (2003-08-21). "3 Women, 3 Paths, 10 Years On". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-03-01.
- Mark Ward (2001-06-21). "Sexiest geek declared". BBC News. Retrieved 2008-03-01.
- "App Inventor for Android". Retrieved 11 December 2011.
- "App Inventor - O'Reilly Media". Retrieved 11 December 2011.
- Katharine Mieszkowski (2002-09-04). "Steal this car!". Salon.com. Retrieved 2008-03-01.
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