December 9, 2013
Google is celebrating this pioneer in computer science’s 107th birthday!!
Grace Murray Hopper (December 9, 1906 – January 1, 1992) was an American computer scientist and United States Navy rear admiral. A pioneer in the field, she was one of the first programmers of the Harvard Mark I computer, and developed the first compiler for a computer programming language.
She 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 (inspired by an actual moth removed from the computer).
Owing to the breadth of her accomplishments and her naval rank, she is sometimes referred to as “Amazing Grace”. The U.S. Navy destroyer USS Hopper (DDG-70) is named for her, as was the Cray XE6 “Hopper” supercomputer at NERSC.
|Grace Murray Hopper|
Hopper in January 1984
|Born||December 9, 1906
New York City, New York, U.S.
|Died||January 1, 1992 (aged 85)
Arlington, Virginia, U.S.
|Place of burial||Arlington National Cemetery|
|Allegiance||United States of America|
|Service/branch||United States Navy|
|Years of service||1943–1966, 1967–1971, 1972–1986|
|Rank||Rear admiral (lower half)|
|Awards|| Defense Distinguished Service Medal
Legion of Merit
Meritorious Service Medal
American Campaign Medal
World War II Victory Medal
National Defense Service Medal
Armed Forces Reserve Medalwith two Hourglass Devices
Naval Reserve Medal
Hopper was born Grace Brewster Murray in New York City. She was the oldest in a family of three children. She was curious as a child, a lifelong trait; at the age of seven she decided to determine how an alarm clock worked, and dismantled seven alarm clocks before her mother realized what she was doing (she was then limited to one clock).
For her preparatory school education, she attended the Hartridge School in Plainfield, New Jersey. Rejected for early admission to Vassar College at age 16 (her test scores in Latin were too low), she was admitted the following year. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Vassar in 1928 with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and physics and earned her Master’s degree at Yale University in 1930.
In 1934, she earned a Ph.D. in mathematics from Yale under the direction of Øystein Ore. Her dissertation, New Types of Irreducibility Criteria, was published that same year. Hopper began teaching mathematics at Vassar in 1931, and was promoted to associate professor in 1941.
She was married to New York University professor Vincent Foster Hopper (1906–76) from 1930 until their divorce in 1945. She never remarried, and she kept his surname.
Anyone remembers COBOL??
COBOL is one of the oldest programming languages, primarily designed by Grace Hopper. Its name is an acronym for COmmon Business-Oriented Language, defining its primary domain in business, finance, and administrative systems for companies and governments.
The COBOL 2002 standard includes support for object-oriented programming and other modern language features.
As a woman in the extremely male-dominated computer programming industry and an officer in the U.S. Navy of the 1950s, Grace Hopper had to fight tooth and nail to be taken seriously by her peers. Without her, though, we wouldn’t have the term ‘debugging’, as it was she who coined the term after her associates removed a moth from the Mark II computer in 1947.
Aside from her brilliant understanding of computers and the languages they spoke, Grace Hopper was a hard-nosed, all-or-nothing go-getter. She managed to make her way into the Navy despite not meeting minimum weight requirements for service, and though she was retired several times, the Navy continually asked her to return for vital programming tasks throughout the years, eventually rewarding her with the rank of Rear Admiral.
The Murray’s were a family with a long military tradition. Grace Hopper’s ancestors had served in the American Revolutionary War. Thus it surprised no one when she resigned her Vassar post to join the Navy WAVES (Women Accepted for Voluntary Emergency Service) in 1943.
Commissioned as a lieutenant, she reported in 1944 to the Bureau of Ordnance Computation Project at Harvard University. She was the third person to join the research team of Professor (and Naval Reserve lieutenant) Howard H. Aiken, who had requested her months earlier and greeted her with the words, “Where the hell have you been?” Then he pointed to the Mark I electromechanical computing machine: “There’s the machine. Compute the coefficients of the arc tangent series by next Thursday.”
Hopper plunged in and learned what the machine could do with a clever mathematician at the helm. By the end of World War II in 1945, she was working on the Mark II. Although her marriage was dissolved at this point, and though she had no children, she did not resume her maiden name.
She was appointed to the Harvard faculty as a research fellow, and in 1949 she joined the newly formed Eckert-Mauchly Corporation, founded by the builders of ENIAC, one of the first electronic digital computers.
She never again held only one job at a time. She went back and forth among institutions in the military, private industry, business, and academy, and in all these places she was regarded as one of the most incisive strategic “futurists” in the world of computing. Hopper remained associated with Eckert-Mauchly and its successors (Remington-Rand, Sperry-Rand, and Univac) until her official “retirement” in 1971.
Her best-known contribution to computing during this period was the invention, in 1953, of the compiler, the intermediate program that translates English language instructions into the language of the target computer. She did this, she said, because she was “lazy” and hoped that “the programmer may return to being a mathematician.”
Her work on compilers and on making machines understand ordinary language instructions led ultimately to the development of the business language COBOL. Hopper’s work also foreshadowed or embodied enormous numbers of developments that are still the very bones of digital computing: subroutines, formula translation, relative addressing, the linking loader, code optimization, and symbolic manipulation. At her death, she was an active consultant for Digital.
We celebrate the achievements of women in computing and to pledge ourselves to extend them. In computing more than other disciplines, women in the right place at the right time have made an enormous difference.
If computing has led the way in making space for women’s participation on an equal basis, it is because the discipline was pioneered in large part by women like Grace Murray Hopper. What was true for Hopper is all the more true for women today because of her work.
The new discipline of computing and the sciences that depend upon it have led the way in making space for women’s participation on an equal basis. That was in some ways true for Grace Murray Hopper, and it is all the more true for women today because of Hopper’s work.
Hopper plunged in and learned to program the machine, putting together a 500-page Manual of Operations for the Automatic Sequence-Controlled Calculator in which she outlined the fundamental operating principles of computing machines.
By the end of World War II in 1945, Hopper was working on the Mark II version of the machine. Although her marriage was dissolved at this point, and though she had no children, she did not resume her maiden name. Hopper was appointed to the Harvard faculty as a research fellow, and in 1949 she joined the newly formed Eckert-Mauchly Corporation.
Perhaps her best-known contribution to computing was the invention of the compiler, the intermediate program that translates English language instructions into the language of the target computer. She did this, she said, because she was lazy and hoped that “the programmer may return to being a mathematician.”
Her work embodied or foreshadowed enormous numbers of developments that are now the bones of digital computing: subroutines, formula translation, relative addressing, the linking loader, code optimization, and even symbolic manipulation of the kind embodied in Mathematica and Maple.
Throughout her life, it was her service to her country of which she was most proud. Appropriately, Admiral Hopper was buried with full Naval honors at Arlington National Cemetery on January 7, 1992.
hroughout much of her later career, Grace Hopper was much in demand as a speaker at various computer-related events. She was well known for her lively and irreverent speaking style, as well as a rich treasury of early war stories. She also received the nickname “Grandma COBOL”.
While she was working on a Mark II Computer at a US Navy research lab in Dahlgren, Virginia in 1947, her associates discovered a moth stuck in a relay and thereby impeding operation, whereupon she remarked that they were “debugging” the system. Though the term bug had been in use for many years in engineering to refer to small glitches and inexplicable problems, Admiral Hopper did bring the term into popularity. The remains of the moth can be found in the group’s log book at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C.
Grace Hopper is famous for her nanoseconds visual aid. People (such as generals and admirals) used to ask her why satellite communication took so long. She started handing out pieces of wire which were just under one foot long (11.80 inches), which is the distance that light travels in one nanosecond.
She gave these pieces of wire the metonym “nanoseconds.” She was careful to tell her audience that the length of her nanoseconds was actually the maximum speed the signals would travel in a vacuum, and that signals would travel more slowly through the actual wires that were her teaching aids. Later she used the same pieces of wire to illustrate why computers had to be small to be fast. At many of her talks and visits, she handed out “nanoseconds” to everyone in the audience, contrasting them with a coil of wire nearly a thousand feet long, representing a microsecond. Later, while giving these lectures while working for DEC, she passed out packets of pepper which she called picoseconds.
Jay Elliot described Grace Hopper as appearing to be “‘all Navy’, but when you reach inside, you find a ‘Pirate’ dying to be released”.
She was then hired as a senior consultant to Digital Equipment Corporation, a position she retained until her death in 1992, aged 85.
Her primary activity in this capacity was as a goodwill ambassador, lecturing widely on the early days of computers, her career, and on efforts that computer vendors could take to make life easier for their users. She visited a large fraction of Digital’s engineering facilities, where she generally received a standing ovation at the conclusion of her remarks.
During many of her lectures, she illustrated a nanosecond using salvaged obsolete Bell System 25 pair telephone cable, cut it to 11.8 inch (30 cm) lengths, the distance that light travels in one nanosecond, and handed out the individual wires to her listeners. Although no longer a serving officer, she always wore her Navy full dress uniform to these lectures.
The most important thing I’ve accomplished, other than building the compiler, is training young people. They come to me, you know, and say, “Do you think we can do this?” I say, “Try it.” And I back ’em up. They need that. I keep track of them as they get older and I stir ’em up at intervals so they don’t forget to take chances.
Grace Hopper: Technology Pioneer
Published on Mar 7, 2013
“Deemed one of the most influential women in technology, Rear Admiral Grace Murray Hopper (1906 – 1992) was the mastermind of the first independent programming language and compiler. Hopper was a member of the United States Navy and was a part of the team that programmed the Mark I, a data calculator that was developed at Harvard University in 1944.
As one of the only women on the programming team, Grace Hopper became a leader and a role model for women in technology today. Through Hopper’s development of the first compiler, she changed the field of technology permanently along with setting a precedent for women in technical fields for the years to follow.”
We ALL are ONE!!
We ALL are connected through these machines called COMPUTERS!!