Who is Grace Hopper?
Tagged with: Software Development
Grace Hopper was a pioneer in computer science, breaking barriers and making significant contributions to the field. Born in 1906 in New York City, Hopper grew up in an era where women were expected to conform to traditional roles and were often excluded from academic and professional opportunities.
Despite these obstacles, she went on to become one of the most influential computer scientists of all time and is most well-known for inventing the first computer compiler, a program that translates written instructions into code that computers can read. This work led her to co-develop COBOL (Common Business-Oriented Language), one of the earliest standardized computer languages. It was the first popular language designed to run on any operating system and is still used in many business and finance systems today. Fun fact: 95% of ATM’s use COBOL!
As a child, Hopper liked to take things apart and rebuild them, which lead her to attend Vassar College where she earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and physics, followed by a master’s degree and PhD in Mathematics from Yale, making her one of the first women to earn a doctorate in mathematics. At the beginning of World War II, Hopper tried to enlist in the Navy, but she was rejected for being too old (at age 34) and also too small.
In 1943, she was able to join the Navy through a newly created program called WAVES (Women Accepted for Voluntary Emergency Service). While this program was considered modern for its time, it was still only geared towards middle class, well-educated, white women and only for shore duty and only to fill certain occupations. Nonetheless, it allowed Hopper a way to join the Navy and she graduated first in her class, and rose in the ranks, eventually reaching the ranks of Rear Admiral. During her time in the Navy, she worked on an early prototype of the electronic computer and is thought to have coined the term “bug” to describe a computer malfunction.
After the war, Hopper continued to work in computing and eventually joined the faculty at Vassar College, where she taught mathematics and computer science. She also continued to work with the Navy, serving as a consultant on various computer projects.
She won many awards throughout her life, Yale named one of their colleges after her. She was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
She has been called a pioneer, a trailblazer, a maverick, and an innovator, “the Mother of computer science,” and has been nicknamed “Amazing Grace.”
She has been the subject of two movies: “Code: Debugging the Gender Gap” and “Born with Curiosity: The Grace Hopper Story.”
She has a missile destroyer named after her: the “USS Hopper” which is only the second US Navy warship to be named for a woman who served in the Navy’s own ranks. She retired from the Navy at the age of 79, making her the oldest serving officer in the US armed forces at that time.
Grace Hopper was an exceptional mathematician and computer scientist who overcame gender bias to make significant contributions to the field of computing. Her legacy continues to inspire and encourage people, especially women, to pursue careers in computing and to break down barriers that prevent them from reaching their full potential. As a female owned and operated tech company, we feel strongly that the tech space should be open to everyone and everyone is encouraged to pursue their dreams!