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Grace Hopper file photo [27391]

Grace Hopper

Given NameGrace
Born9 Dec 1906
Died1 Jan 1992
CountryUnited States


ww2dbaseGrace Brewster Murray was born in New York, New York, United States as the eldest of three children of Walter Fletcher Murray and Mary Campbell Van Horne in 1906. She attended the Hartridge School in Plainfield, New Jersey, United States, and then entered Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York in 1924. She graduated from Vassar in 1928 with a bachelor's degree in mathematics and physics. In 1930, she earned a master's degree from Yale University of New Haven, Connecticut, United States. In the same year, she married New York University professor Vincent Foster Hopper and took on his surname. In 1931, while still studying at Yale, Hopper began teaching at Vassar. In 1934, she earned a doctorate degree in mathematics from Yale. In 1941, she was promoted to associate professor at Vassar.

ww2dbaseWhen the United States entered WW2 in Dec 1941, Hopper decided to follow the footsteps of her great-grandfather Alexander Wilson Russell, who was an admiral in the US Navy who saw action during the US Civil War. Her application to enlist in the US Navy was rejected. The Navy cited her age as being too old for enlistment, that her weight to height ratio was too low, and her profession at Vassar was valuable for the war effort. In 1943, she partially abandoned her goal to join the US Navy, and instead enlisted in the women's section of the United States Naval Reserve, which was better known as Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service (WAVES). To achieve this, she obtained a leave of absence from Vassar and then got a special exemption for her low body weight (she weighed 105 pounds; the requirement was 120 pounds). In 1944, she graduated at the top of her class at the Naval Reserve Midshipmen's School at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts, United States. At the rank of lieutenant (jg), she was assigned to the Bureau of Ships Computation Project at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where she served on the Mark I (also known as the Automatic Sequence Controlled Calculator) computer programming staff headed by Howard Aiken; Hopper and Aiken co-authored three papers on the Mark I.

ww2dbaseWhen the war ended in 1945, Hopper requested to transfer to the regular Navy, but the request was denied due to her relatively advanced age; she remained in the Naval Reserve. In the same year, her marriage to Vincent Hopper ended in a divorce. She would keep the Hopper name. Around this time, she turned down a full professorship at Vassar, preferring to continue her research at Harvard. In 1947, while working on a Mark II computer at a US Navy research lab in Dahlgren, Virginia, United States, one of her associates discovered a moth that was stuck in a relay, which negatively affected the computer's operations; this was the anecdotal origin of the phrase "computer bug", which later led to the phrase "debugging". In 1949, she became an employee of the Eckert-Mauchly Computer Corporation as a senior mathematician and joined the team developing the Universal Automatic Computer I (UNIVAC I); she would remain on projects contracted with the US Navy. In 1952, Eckert-Mauchly was taken over by Remington Rand Corporation. In the 1950s, while most only thought of computers as a machine for arithmetic, she pioneered a method translated mathematical notation into machine code, which led to the development of compilers and machine-independent programming languages; both remain critically relevant in the field of computers today. In parallel, she also advocated that computer operations should be made more intuitive so that it could be used by a wider audience, as reflected by her advocacy of English-like programming languages rather than the potentially daunting mathematical symbols and machine code. In 1954, she was named Remington Rand/Eckert–Mauchly's first director of the automatic programming department; under her leadership, the department released some of the first compiler-based programming languages, including MATH-MATIC and FLOW-MATIC. In the spring of 1959, she served as a technical consultant to the Conference on Data Systems Languages (CODASYL), which would define the foundations for a new language which would later be known as Common Business-Oriented Language (COBOL). Between 1967 and 1977, she served as the director of the Navy Programming Languages Group in the Navy's Office of Information Systems Planning. During this time, in 1973, she was promoted to the rank of captain. In the 1970s, she advocated and then played a leadership part in the replacement of large centralized systems in the Department of Defense with many small distributed computers.

ww2dbaseHopper retired from the Naval Reserve in 1966 at the rank of commander. In Aug 1967, she was recalled to active duty, then retired again in 1971. In 1972, she was recalled again. In 1973, she was promoted to the rank of captain. In 1983, she was promoted, by special Presidential appointment, to the rank of commodore. In 1985, US Navy converted the rank of commodore to one-star rear admiral, thus making her one of US Navy's few female admirals. She took mandatory retirement in 1986 at the age of 79. At a special retirement celebration aboard USS Constitution in Boston, Massachusetts, she was awarded the Defense Distinguished Service Medal. After her retirement from the military, she worked for the Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC); she would remain on the DEC payroll until her passing. She passed away in her sleep on 1 Jan 1992 at her home in Arlington, Virginia. She was interred with full military honors in Arlington National Cemetery. The Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer with hull number DDG-70 was commissioned as USS Hopper in 1997 in her honor. In 2016, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom posthumously.

ww2dbaseSource: Wikipedia

Last Major Revision: Mar 2018

Grace Hopper Interactive Map


Lieutenant Grace Hopper, circa late 1940sDonald Cropper, K. C. Krishnan, Grace Hopper, and Norman Rothberg working with a UNIVAC computer, circa 1960
See all 7 photographs of Grace Hopper

Grace Hopper Timeline

9 Dec 1906 Grace Murray was born in New York, New York, United States.
27 Jun 1944 Gracce Hopper was promoted to the rank of lieutenant (jg).
1 Jan 1946 Gracce Hopper was promoted to the rank of lieutenant.
1 Apr 1952 Gracce Hopper was promoted to the rank of lieutenant commander.
1 Jul 1957 Gracce Hopper was promoted to the rank of commander.
31 Dec 1966 Gracce Hopper retired from military service for the first time.
2 Aug 1973 Gracce Hopper was promoted to the rank of captain.
15 Dec 1983 Grace Hopper was promoted to the rank of commodore at the White House in Washington, DC, United States. The ceremony was oversaw by US President Ronald Reagan.
8 Nov 1985 Gracce Hopper's rank was converted to rear admiral.
14 Aug 1986 Grace Hopper retired from the US Navy.
31 Aug 1986 Gracce Hopper retired from military service for the final time.
1 Jan 1992 Grace Hopper passed away in Arlington, Virginia, United States.
22 Nov 2016 US President Barack Obama, during a ceremony at the White House in Washington, DC, United States, posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Grace Hopper.

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Lieutenant Grace Hopper, circa late 1940sDonald Cropper, K. C. Krishnan, Grace Hopper, and Norman Rothberg working with a UNIVAC computer, circa 1960
See all 7 photographs of Grace Hopper

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