Ever wondered where the term 'bug' comes from when referring to a computer malfunction? Well we have today’s #Techspiration to thank for that.
To me programming is more than an important practical art. It is also a gigantic undertaking in the foundations of knowledge.
- Grace Hopper was born in 1906 in New York.
- She showed an interest in engineering at a very young age, taking apart household appliances and putting them back together
- She attended first Vassar College before going on to Yale University to earn a Master’s Degree and PhD in mathematics, then headed back to Vassar to teach
- In 1942, Grace resigned her post at Vassar and joined the Navy WAVES (women accepted for voluntary emergency service)
- In 1944, she was commissioned as a Lieutenant (Junior Grade) and assigned to the Bureau of Ordnance Computation Project at Harvard University. Her team worked on and produced the Mark I, an early prototype of the electronic computer
- One day when the Mark I malfunctioned, Grace opened it up and found a dead moth. She taped the culprit into the report and wrote, “first actual bug found”. The phrase stuck!
- After the end of the war, Hopper became a research fellow on the Harvard faculty and in 1949, joined the Eckert-Mauchly Corporation, continuing her pioneering work on computer technology
- Hopper was involved in the creation of UNIVAC, the first all-electronic digital computer. She invented the first computer compiler, a program that translates written instructions into codes that computers read directly
- She retired from the navy with the rank of commander in 1966, but she was recalled to active duty the following year to help standardise the navy’s computer languages. At the age of 79, she was the oldest officer on active U.S. naval duty when she retired again in 1986
- Hopper was elected a fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (1962), was named the first computer science Man of the Year by the Data Processing Management Association (1969) and was awarded the National Medal of Technology (1991)
- Grace went back to teaching after her retirement from the navy where she remained until her death in 1992.
What makes here great
Prior to language based computer programming, computers relied on binary code which was notoriously difficult to decipher.
Grace believed that if computers could be programmed in English it would make programming accessible to more people. She helped to create early English programming languages and was dubbed the ‘Queen of Software’. She also helped to develop common business-orientated languages that are still used to create business programmes today.
Why is she a Techspiration to Claritas?
Grace Hopper is a #Techspiration to us because her ingenuity led to computer programme languages that could be used to make computers that are accessible to all of us. Her contributions to computer science benefited academia, industry and the military.
There aren’t many people who can claim to have had so many achievements in their lifetime.
Our favourite quote
A ship in port is safe, but that is not what ships are for. Sail out to sea and do new things.