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Grace Murray Hopper

gracehopper.jpg

Image from the U.S. Naval Historical Center Online Library

Born in New York City in 1906, Grace Murray demonstrated a fierce curiosity and intelligence in her early years that would serve her well for the rest of her life. She received a Bachelor's degree in Mathematics and Physics from Vassar College in 1928 and her Master's degree from Yale University in 1930. She started teaching at Vassar College the following year. She went on to earn her Ph.D. in Mathematics from Yale University in 1934.

In 1943 Hopper enlisted in the Navy and served with the WAVES (Women Accepted for Voluntary Emergency Service), a division of the Naval Reserves made up entirely of women. She served in the Navy until 1986, eventually being promoted to the rank of Rear Admiral.

In 1949 Hopper began working for the Eckert-Mauchly Computer Corporation. It was in 1952 that Hopper developed the first compiler (a program for translating computer code), called A-0. Up until its development, the prevailing opinion was that computers could only be used for arithmetic. Further disproving that assertion, Admiral Hopper helped to develop the programing language COBOL, which was closer to human language than machine code. COBOL is a standard programing language that continues to be developed and is still used in computing today. To learn more about Grace Murray Hopper, check out Grace Hopper and the Invention of the Information Age or Grace Hopper: Admiral of the Cyber Sea.

This entry is part of MPL's National Women's History Month.

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