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Fascinating facts about Grace Hopper inventor of the first computer compiler in 1952. Grace Murray Hopper
Inventor: Grace Murray Hopper (born Grace Brewster Murray)
Grace Hopper photo courtesy Navel Historical Center, U. S. Navy.
Criteria: First to invent. First practical.
Birth: December 9, 1906 in New York, New York
Death: January 1,1992 in Alexandria, Virginia
Nationality: American
Grace Murray Hopper, American Navy officer, mathematician, and pioneer in data processing, born in New York City and educated at Vassar College and at Yale University. An associate professor of mathematics at Vassar, In 1930 Grace Brewster Murray married Vincent Foster Hopper. (He died in 1945 during World War II, and they had no children.)   Hopper joined the Navy in 1943. She was assigned to Howard Aiken's computation lab at Harvard University, where she worked as a programmer on the Mark I, the first large-scale U.S. computer and a precursor of electronic computers.

Well known for her work in the 1950s and 1960s at the Eckert-Mauchly Computer Corporation, later part of Sperry Rand, Hopper was credited with devising the first compiler (1952), a program that translates instructions for a computer from English to machine language. She helped develop the Flow-Matic programming language (1957) and the Common Business-Oriented Language (COBOL; 1959-61) for the UNIVAC, the first commercial electronic computer. She worked to attract industry and business interests to computers and to bridge the gulf between management and programmers. Hopper taught and lectured extensively throughout the 1960s. She retired from the U.S. Naval Reserve only to be recalled to oversee the navy's program to standardize its computer programs and languages. She was elevated to the rank of captain by a special act of Congress in 1973 and to the rank of rear admiral in 1983. Hopper retired from the navy in 1986 and served as a senior consultant with Digital Equipment Corporation.

TO LEARN MORE

RELATED INFORMATION:
History of Computing   from The Great Idea Finder
Women Inventors, A Class Act  
from The Great Idea Finder

ON THE BOOKSHELF:

Girls Think of Everything: Stories of Ingenious Inventions by Women
by Catherine Thimmesh, Melissa Sweet (Ill) / Hardcover - 64 pages (2000) / Houghton Mifflin

A dozen women are profiled in this collection of short, anecdotal biographies demonstrating that necessity, ingenuity, and luck all play a part in successful inventions. The final section tells girls how to patent their inventions, and an informed bibliography will do just that.
Grace Hopper: Computer Whiz
by Patricia J. Murphy / Library Binding / Enslow Publishers; (June 1, 2004)
A brief description of her life from the Famous Inventors Series.
Understanding Computers (This title is out of print.)
by Grace Murray Hopper / Paperback - 578 pages / West/Wadsworth - 1990 / ISBN: 0314665900
Feminine Ingenuity: How Women Inventors Changed America
by Anne L. MacDonald / Paperback (March 1994) / Ballantine Books
Chronicles women's patented inventions, beginning with the first patent obtained by a woman (in
1809). Discusses some of the economic, political, and social obstacles, and sets the women and
their inventions in historical context.
Women Inventors: Two Centuries of Discoveries That Have Shaped Our World
by Susan Casey / Paperback - 144 pages (October 1997) / Chicago Review Press
These inspiring stories of women inventors take the reader on a step-by-step journey through the process of inventing.

ON THE WEB:
The Life of Grace Hopper
Past Notable Women of Computing. From the Yale University..
(URL: www.cs.yale.edu/homes/tap/past-women-cs.html#Grace%20Hopper)
Grace Hopper - Mother of the Computer

The Women's International Center honors Grace Hopper.
(URL: www.wic.org/bio/ghopper.htm)
Navy commissions USS Hopper
The guided missile destroyer Hopper (DDG 70) was commissioned in San Francisco, Calif.,   on Saturday, Sept. 6, 1997.
(URL: www.chinfo.navy.mil/navpalib/ships/destroyers/hopper/hoprcom.html)
Women Inventors in the 20th Century
Compiled by the Smithsonian Institution.
(URL: invention.smithsonian.org/centerpieces/ilives/womeninventors.html)
Grace Hopper (1906-1992)
From the National Women's Hall of Fame.
(URL: www.greatwomen.org/women.php?action=viewone&id=79)
Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing
The Third Annual Celebration will be held September 14-16, 2000.
(URL: www.sdsc.edu/Hopper/)


WORDS OF WISDOM:

"We're flooding people with information. We need to feed it through a processor. A human must turn information into intelligence or knowledge. We've tended to forget that no computer will ever ask a new question." - Grace Hopper
"If it's a good idea . . . go ahead and do it. It is much easier to apologize than it is to get permission."  - Grace Hopper
"Some day, on the corporate balance sheet, there will be an entry which reads, Information; for in most cases, the information is more valuable than the hardware which processes it."  - Grace Hopper

DID YOU KNOW:

  • The guided missile destroyer Hopper (DDG 70) Is named after Rear Adm. Grace Murray Hopper.
  • During her career, she was know as the "Grand Lady of Software," "Amazing Grace" and "Grandma Cobol" after co-inventing COBOL (COmmon Business-Oriented Language).
  • One of the most prominent women in the computer industry, Rear Admiral Grace Hopper received credit for creating the first compiler in 1952, and helped to develop two computer languages and to make computers attractive to businesses.

 

Reference Sources in BOLD Type This page revised October 23, 2006.
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