Search

About Grace Hopper

Grace Hopper

Education

Hopper was born in 1906 in New York City. Curious by nature, she studied mathematics at Vassar College, having been admitted there at 17. She graduated with a BA in mathematics and physics, and went on to earn a master’s degree at Yale University in 1930. Four years later, she earned a Ph.D. in mathematics, also from Yale. She taught at Vassar starting in 1931, and was promoted to associate professor in 1941.

Career

Grace Hopper was one of the most influential computer scientists in history. She was a pioneer in the development of computer programming, and participated in the creation of some of the first compilers and debuggers. Her work helped make computers more accessible to all people, and she is considered one of the founders of modern computing.

She was also dedicated to the war effort. In 1943, Hopper obtained a leave of absence from Vassar and joined the United States Navy Reserve. She trained at the Naval Reserve Midshipmen’s School at Smith College, graduating first of her class. She was assigned to the Bureau of Ships Computation Project at Harvard University as a lieutenant, junior grade.

Hopper served on the Mark I computer programming staff, then continued to serve in the Navy Reserve after the war, remaining at the Harvard Computation Lab. In 1949, she joined the team developing the UNIVAC I, and later served as UNIVAC director of Automatic Programming Development for Remington Rand. She created the A compiler and an operational link-loader. Her department released some of the first compiler-based programming languages, including MATH-MATIC and FLOW-MATIC. From 1967 to 1977, Hopper served as the director of the Navy Programming Languages Group in the Navy’s O”ce of Information Systems Planning.

She was eventually promoted to the rank of commodore, which was later renamed rear admiral (lower half), making Hopper one of the Navy’s few female admirals.

Trivia

Hopper received numerous awards during her career, including the National Medal of Technology, the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, and honorary degrees from universities around the world. She was a well-liked speaker at multiple computer-related events, receiving the nickname “Grandma COBOL”.

She died of natural causes in 1992, at 85 years of age.