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Grace Murray Hopper

Academy of Achievement

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Grace Murray Hopper
Grace Murray Hopper

Grace Murray Hopper

Academy of Achievement

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Rear Admiral Grace Murray Hopper (December 9, 1906 – January 1, 1992) was a pioneer in computer science, one of the first programmers of the Harvard Mark I computer, and developed the first compiler for a computer programming language. Hopper conceptualized the idea of machine-independent programming languages, which led to the development of COBOL, one of the first modern programming languages. She is credited with popularizing the term “debugging” for fixing computer glitches (motivated by an actual moth removed from the computer). Because of her accomplishments and her naval rank, she was affectionately dubbed “Amazing Grace.” Born Grace Brewster Murray, she graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Vassar in 1928 with a degree in mathematics and physics and earned her master’s degree at Yale in 1930. She earned a Ph.D. in mathematics from Yale in 1934. She was married to NYU professor Vincent Hopper from 1930 until their divorce in 1945; she never remarried. In 1943, Hopper volunteered to serve in the WAVES and was sworn into the U.S. Navy Reserve. She was assigned to the Bureau of Ships Computation Project at Harvard, and served on the Mark I computer-programming staff headed by Howard Aiken. Hopper and Aiken co-authored three papers on the Automatic Sequence Controlled Calculator, and she remained at Harvard until 1949. Hopper then worked at the Eckert-Mauchly Computer Corporation as a senior mathematician and joined the team developing the UNIVAC I. In 1959, she served as the technical consultant, on a committee of many of her former employees, that defined the new computer language, COBOL. The new language extended Hopper’s FLOW-MATIC language with ideas from the IBM equivalent, the COMTRAN. Hopper’s believed that programs should be written in a language that was close to English rather than in machine code, and COBOL would go on to be the most ubiquitous business language to date. In the 1970s, she pioneered the implementation of standards for testing computer systems and components. In the 1980s, the National Bureau of Standards, known today as the National Institute of Standards and Technology, assumed these tests. In 1983, she was heralded on the CBS’ “60 Minutes” program. Later that year, Grace Murray Hopper participated in the Achievement Summit in Coronado, California, and spoke to the students about her life and career. In 1986, at a celebration honoring her retirement on the USS Constitution, she was awarded the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, the highest non-combat award of the U.S. Defense Department. At the time of her retirement, she was the oldest commissioned officer in the United States Navy (79 years, eight months). The famous quotation, “It’s easier to ask for forgiveness than it is to get permission” is often attributed to Grace Murray Hopper.

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Grace Murray Hopper

Rear Admiral Grace Murray Hopper (December 9, 1906 – January 1, 1992) was a pioneer in computer science, one of the first programmers of the Harvard Mark I computer, and developed the first compiler for a computer programming language. Hopper conceptualized the idea of machine-independent programming languages, which led to the development of COBOL, one of the first modern programming languages. She is credited with popularizing the term “debugging” for fixing computer glitches (motivated by an actual moth removed from the computer). Because of her accomplishments and her naval rank, she was affectionately dubbed “Amazing Grace.” Born Grace Brewster Murray, she graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Vassar in 1928 with a degree in mathematics and physics and earned her master’s degree at Yale in 1930. She earned a Ph.D. in mathematics from Yale in 1934. She was married to NYU professor Vincent Hopper from 1930 until their divorce in 1945; she never remarried. In 1943, Hopper volunteere...

10 MIN1983 JUL 8
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Grace Murray Hopper
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Latest Episodes

Grace Murray Hopper

Rear Admiral Grace Murray Hopper (December 9, 1906 – January 1, 1992) was a pioneer in computer science, one of the first programmers of the Harvard Mark I computer, and developed the first compiler for a computer programming language. Hopper conceptualized the idea of machine-independent programming languages, which led to the development of COBOL, one of the first modern programming languages. She is credited with popularizing the term “debugging” for fixing computer glitches (motivated by an actual moth removed from the computer). Because of her accomplishments and her naval rank, she was affectionately dubbed “Amazing Grace.” Born Grace Brewster Murray, she graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Vassar in 1928 with a degree in mathematics and physics and earned her master’s degree at Yale in 1930. She earned a Ph.D. in mathematics from Yale in 1934. She was married to NYU professor Vincent Hopper from 1930 until their divorce in 1945; she never remarried. In 1943, Hopper volunteere...

10 MIN1983 JUL 8
Comments
Grace Murray Hopper
the END