8 Mar 2021

Meet Grace Hopper

Grace Hopper gif | Stemettes Zine

Early Life

When Grace was young, she found inspiration from those closest to her. For example, she was inspired by her grandfather- a US Navy Admiral who had fought in the Civil War- and her mother, who was a mathematician.

Whilst she could find inspiration from those around her, she also found it from the everyday world. At age 8 she had dismantled all of her family’s alarm clocks to figure out how they work- often getting her in trouble with her Mother!

Grace’s Education

She carried on to study mathematics and was awarded her PhD for Mathematics from Yale University, something she was very proud of, especially as she was initially rejected from her college during the admissions process.

Grace Hopper quote | Stemettes Zine

Grace’s Career

After graduating, she taught Mathematics at her former college, but decided instead to join the army during World War II before being rejected due to her age. Never one to be defeated, she enlisted herself in the Navy Reserves where she became a lieutenant assigned to a computation project at Harvard University working on Mark I (the first large scale calculator which paved the way for computers). During this time she also worked on a linker (Also Known As a Compiler) as she believed computer programs could be written in English, as well as many other things such as writing the first ever computer manual and coining the term ‘bug’.

Her compiler went on to do great things, such as paving the way for the first computer programming languages such as COBOL. She made sure others would use this language and it quickly became widely used- as well as providing the basis for the programming we use today.

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