Computer Science Profile Grace Hopper




Grace Hopper was a pioneer in computer science!


Born in New York City on December 9, 1906, Hopper earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and physics from Vassar College, followed by a Ph.D. in mathematics from Yale University. During World War II, she joined the Naval Reserve’s WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service) and was assigned to the Computation Project at Harvard University. In that assignment, she became one of the first programmers, male or female, of the Harvard Mark I, IBM’s general purpose electro-mechanical computer used at the end of the war.


440px-Museum_of_Science,_Boston,_MA_-_IMG_3163In 1949, Hopper joined the Eckert-Mauchly Computer Corporation as a senior engineer on the UNIVAC I team. The UNIVAC, which stands for UNIVersal Automatic Computer, was the first commercially produced computer in the U.S. It was there that she developed the first compiler for a computer programming language in 1952. A few years later, Hopper was named the company's first director of automatic programming. She and her team released some of the first compiler-based programming languages. One of those languages, FLOW-MATIC, was the basis for COBOL (Common Business Oriented Language), a compiled programming language that embodies Hopper’s belief that programs should be written in a language that is close to English.


Commodore_Grace_M._Hopper,_USN_(covered)In addition to her pioneering working in programming languages, Hopper also pioneered another important aspect of computer science – use of the term “bug”. While she and her team were working on a Mark II computer at the US Navy research lab, they discovered a moth stuck in a relay. Hopper commented that they were “debugging” the system and, although the term “bug” had been used previously to refer to small glitches, Hopper helped popularize the expression that is so well known today.


Over the course of her career, Hopper was given many awards and recognitions, too many to mention in a short blog post. But, you can find a full list of them here: A few of the most notable are being awarded the inaugural Computer Sciences Man of the Year award from the Data Processing Management Association in 1969, receiving the the Defense Distinguished Service Medal when she retired in 1986, and being honored with a Google Doodle on her birthday in 2013. The animation showed Hopper sitting at a computer, using COBOL to print out her age. At the end of the animation, a moth flew out of the computer.




Posted on December 12, 2015 in Announcements by LeeAnn Baronett : 0 Comments

You must be logged in to comment | Sign In