Admiral Grace Hopper

Grace Murray HopperMy dear friend Randy Bear of Concerned Citizen blog  helped me find all this incredible information about Admiral Grace Hopper, the namesake for the Women in Computing conference on Houston, TX this year. 
What didn’t we find? Leave comments below. As I get more time I’ll include special stories including from Randy who have met the woman who inspires us all! 

· Her former husband, Vincent Foster Hopper, died in 1945 during World War II.

o They were married from 1930 but got divorced in 1945.

o She had never been married again and has chosen to keep her married last name.

· When working on the Mark I in 1944, she wrote the first users manual for a computer, a 500-page manual on the operations of Mark I

· While working on the Mark I, she coined the term “bug” describing a computer malfunction

· During her work on UNIVAC, she invented the first computer compiler, translating written instructions to machine code.

o It was during this time when she was able to develop her compiler which was then called the A compiler. The first version was called A-0.

o A few years later in 1952, she was able to come up with an operational compiler, however she said that nobody believed it and that she was told that computers were only limited to doing arithmetic.

o Two years later, she was named Eckert-Mauchly Computer Corporation’s director for automatic programming, and it was her department which released the first programming languages which were compiler based. These included ARITH-MATIC, FLOW-MATIC, and MATH-MATIC.

o In 1959, CODASYL or the Conference on Data Systems Languages brought together different computer experts for a 2-day conference. Hopper had been the committee’s technical consultant, and she along with her previous employees helped define COBOL.

· In 1967, Hopper was called back to active duty with the US Navy, and assigned to the Chief of Naval Operations’ staff as Director, Navy Programming Languages Group.

· The Cray XE6 “Hopper” supercomputer at the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center, or NERSC, was named after her.

· When she was seven, she had a great urge to discover how alarm clocks worked and was able to dismantle seven alarm clocks before her mother discovered what she was up to. After that incident, she was then limited to studying just one clock.

· She tried to enter Vassar College when she was 16 but got rejected because her grades in Latin weren’t satisfactory. She was, however, accepted the following year.

· Hopper always had a first love for the Navy:

o While Grace Hopper wanted to be transferred to the regular Navy posts, her request was denied because she was already 38 then. She did, however, remain to serve as part of the Navy Reserve.

o Until 1949, Grace Hopper was part of the Harvard Computation Lab.

o She even turned down Vassar’s offer of a full professorship post, and instead chose to work as a researcher under Navy contract for Harvard.

o At the time of her retirement, she was the oldest active-duty commissioned officer in the United States Navy (79 years, eight months and five days).

o Coincidently, she was aboard the oldest commissioned ship in the United States Navy (188 years, nine months and 23 days). (USS Constitution)

· Apart from being known as “Amazing Grace,” another nickname she earned was “Grandma COBOL” because of her great work on COBOL’s development.

· She was awarded the National Medal of Technology in 1991 by Pres. George W. Bush —becoming the first female individual recipient of the honor.

· At the age of 85, she died in Arlington, Virginia, on January 1, 1992. She was laid to rest in the Arlington National Cemetery.


· A ship in port is safe, but that’s not what ships are built for.

· If it’s a good idea, go ahead and do it. It’s much easier to apologize than it is to get permission.

· Leadership is a two-way street, loyalty up and loyalty down. Respect for one’s superiors; care for one’s crew.

· There’s something you learn in your first boot-camp, or training camp: If they put you down somewhere with nothing to do, go to sleep — you don’t know when you’ll get any more.

· I’ve always been more interested in the future than in the past.

· I’ve received many honors and I’m grateful for them; but I’ve already received the highest award I’ll ever receive, and that has been the privilege and honor of serving very proudly in the United States Navy.

· Life was simple before World War II. After that, we had systems.

· Humans are allergic to change. They love to say, “We’ve always done it this way.” I try to fight that. That’s why I have a clock on my wall that runs counter-clockwise.

· A human must turn information into intelligence or knowledge. We’ve tended to forget that no computer will ever ask a new question.

Randy Bear

Concerned Citizens blog

Technology Blog

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