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Grace Murray Hopper

Grace Murray Hopper

Grace Murray Hopper, also known as a ‘Rear Admiral’ since she was a United States Navy officer, she was born on December 9, 1906 and died on January 1, 1992. The American computer scientist was a remarkable example in her field, not only did she make herself noticeable by being one of the first programmers for Harvard Mark I computer, but she also came up with the first ‘compiler’ for a computer programming language.

Early Life

She was born in New York and was the eldest out of all children. She went to Hartridge School in Plainfield, New Jersey, later on she was admitted in Vassar College and graduated Phi Beta Kappa in 1928 with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and physics. She received her Master’s degree in 1930 at Yale University, by 1934 she had earned a PhD in Mathematics from the same institution.

Later on

Hopper taught mathematics at Vasser College in 1931 and was elevated to the position of associate professor by 1941. New Types of Irreducibility Criteria, her dissertation was published the same year she received her PhD degree.

Personal Details

She married Professor Vincent Foster Hopper who taught at New York University. They got divorced in 1945 and Hopper kept his surname and didn’t remarry. After she retired reluctantly, she was hred as a senior consultant to Digital Equipment Corporation and this position remained till she passed away in 1992.

Computer related achievements

CODASYL was a two day conference in 1959 which was attended by several computer experts, Hopper was a technical consultant there. She suggested that programs must be in a language more familiar with English rather than the mere machine code or languages close to machine code. This eventually led to the development of COBOL which is regarded as the business language even today.

She also worked as the director of Navy Programming Languages Group and became captain in 1973, Hopper also made sure that COBOL was incorporated within the Navy. The computer prodigy Hopper, is also known for coming up with the term of “debugging” which at that time related to getting rid of a moth on the computer, however it is now referred to as the process by which one gets rid of computer glitches or problems.

In 1969 she won the award for “Computer Sciences Man-of-the-Year” by Data Processing Management Association. Also in 1971 the Association for Computing Machinery bestowed her with “Grace Murray Hopper Award for Outstanding Young Computer Professionals”. By 1973 she was made a Distinguished Fellow of the British Computer Society, which made her the first woman from the United States of America or any nationality to become part of it. In 1986, along with retirement she received a Defense Distinguished Service Medal. There were many other awards and namings that followed her later on.

In conclusion, Hopper symbolized the stature and capability of women in general, and also created space and credibility for females in the world of mathematics and computers.


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