She owned a consulting firm and worked as technology commentator for NPR's All Things Considered. Her essays and novels analyze the human side of the world of computer programming. Her breakthrough book was non-fiction: Close to the Machine: Technophilia and its Discontents.
Ullman's adoptive father's family included computer scientists and mathematicians who had a major impact on her decision to pursue software engineering, a field for which she did "not have native talent." Ullman earned a B.A. in English at Cornell University in the early 1970s. She began working professionally in 1978 as a programmer of EDI applications and graphical user interfaces that preceded Microsoft Windows.
She eventually began writing about her experiences as a programmer. From 1994 until 1996, she published articles in Harper's Magazine and in the collections Resisting the Virtual Life and Wired Women. In 1995 she wrote an essay, Out of Time: Reflections on the Programming Life. She lives in San Francisco.
- Close to the Machine: Technophilia and its Discontents San Francisco : City Lights Books, 1997 (ISBN 9780872863323
- Life in Code: A Personal History of Technology New York: MCD, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2017. ISBN 9780374534516
- The Bug New York, N.Y. : Talese, 2003. ISBN 0-385-50860-3
- By Blood: A Novel New York, N.Y. : Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2012. ISBN 9780374117559
- Out of Time: Reflections on the Programming Life (included in the 1995 collection Resisting the Virtual Life, ISBN 0-87286-299-2)
- "The Myth of Order. The real lesson of Y2K is that software operates just like any natural system: out of control". Wired. April 1999.
- "The dumbing-down of programming: Rebelling against Microsoft and its wizards, an engineer rediscovers the joys of difficult computing. First of two parts". Salon.com. 12 May 1998.
- "The dumbing-down of programming: Part Two: Returning to the source. Once knowledge disappears into code, how do we retrieve it?". Salon.com. 13 May 1998.
- "How to Be a 'Woman Programmer'". NYTimes.com. 18 May 2013.
- "Story Behind By Blood - Online Essay". Upcoming4.me. 9 July 2013.
- "Story Behind The Bug - Online Essay". Upcoming4.me. 17 October 2013.
- "Twilight of the crypto-geeks: Lone-wolf digital libertarians are beginning to abandon their faith in technology uber alles and espouse suspiciously socialist-sounding ideas". Salon.com. 13 May 2000.
- "Geeks Win: A survey of the oddballs who write the codes that make the 21st-century world go round". The New York Times Book Review. 4 November 2001. p. BR18. ISSN 0362-4331.
- "The Orphans of Invention". The New York Times. San Francisco. 22 May 2003. p. A33. ISSN 0362-4331.
- "The Boss in the Machine". The New York Times. San Francisco. 19 February 2005. p. A15. ISSN 0362-4331.
- "Identity Stolen? Take a Number". The New York Times. San Francisco. 17 July 2006. p. A17. ISSN 0362-4331.
- "Dennis Ritchie, b. 1941". The New York Times Magazine. 25 December 2011: 24. Cite journal requires
- "How To Be a 'Woman Programmer'". The New York Times. 19 May 2013. p. SR5. ISSN 0362-4331.
- Ellen Ullman (1 January 2009). "My Secret Life". The New York Times. San Francisco. p. A23. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 24 December 2011.
- "Women Who Inspire Us". GirlGeeks. Retrieved 19 February 2011.
- "Interview with Ellen Ullman: Of Machines, Methods, and Madness". IEEE Software. Los Alamitos: IEEE Computer Society. 15 (3): 42–45. May 1998. doi:10.1109/MS.1998.10019. ISSN 0740-7459.
- Scott Rosenberg (2003-05-16). "Bugged out". Salon Magazine. Retrieved 2017-10-05. (Interview about her novel The Bug.)
|Wikiquote has quotations related to: Ellen Ullman|
- Interview with Salon magazine (October 9, 1997)
- Needed: Techies Who Know Shakespeare The New York Times (July 8, 1998)
- Interview with Stay Free magazine (Fall 1998)
- Interview with frontwheeldrive.com (May 21, 1999)
- Interview with SF Gate (May 8, 2002)
- Interview and discussion of The Bug on The WELL (January, 2004)
- Audio interview with Jon Udell (October 6, 2006)
- "Out of Time: Reflections on the Programming Life"
- Disappearing into the code (Salon Magazine)
- Sliced off by the cutting edge (Salon Magazine)
- How to be a 'Woman Programmer' The New York Times (May 18, 2013)
- Story Behind By Blood - Online Essay at Upcoming4.me (July 9, 2013)
- Story Behind The Bug - Online Essay at Upcoming4.me (October 9, 2013)
- REVIEW : By Blood Upcoming4.me (May 25, 2013)