Grace Hopper



Grace Hopper was born in 1906. She received her B.A. from Vassar and her Ph.D. in mathematics from Yale. In 1943, Grace Hopper joined the Navy WAVES. Commissioned a lieutenant in July 1944, she reported to the Bureau of Ordnance Computation Project where she was quickly put to work at the Mark I and later Mark II computing machines.
Grace Hopper's importance in the fledgling area of computers lay in her development of the computer compiler. Her compilar freed programmers from having to write repetitive codes and ensured fewer errors. Rather than having programmers repeat each set of instructions every time particular instructions were needed, instructions that were common to all programs were available in the computer's own memory and could be referred to when needed.
Grace Hopper pioneered the use of natural language in programming that would lead to the creation of COBOL (Common Business-Oriented Language) for the UNIVAC, the first commercial electronic computer. Disregarding the naysayers who said English couldn't be used to instruct computers, Hopper used well-known English words and terms instead of computerese to capture the semantics and operators of data processing. She was promoted to the rank of commodore in 1983, and later to Admiral. Grace Hopper died in 1992.

Seshat Goddess of Numbers

References:

Women Invent:Two Centuries of Discoveries That Have Shaped Our World by Susan Carey (Chicago Review Press, 1997) p. 14
Mothers and Daughter of Invention by Autumn Stanley (Rutgers University Press, 1995) pp. 438-442,447, 460ff,462f,466,504.
Patently Female by Ethalie Vare and Geg Ptacek (John Wiley and Sons, 2002) pp.3,5,9 60-63,74-75,86

Web Sites

Grace Murray Hopper:Pioneer Computer Scientist
Grace Hopper's Early Years
Grace Hopper: Inventor of the Computer Compiler
The Wit and Wisdom of Grace Hopper
Mother of the Computer
The Women of ENIAC
Short History of the Second American Revolution
Notable Women of Computing

Video

Minerva's Machine: Women and Computing