The early days of computing were cumbersome and slow because data processing systems used a mechanical programing code that was very difficult to write.
But this woman changes all that.
Grace Hopper attends Vassar and earns a master and PhD in mathematics at Yale and joins the navy in WWII. She’s assigned to Harvard University where she works on the Mark I computer programing staff.
When trying to fix a problem with the Mark II computer, Hopper found a moth stuck in the machine. This is how the term “debugging a computer” came to be. She taped it into the logbook and today you can find the first computer bug at the Smithsonian Museum of American History.
Hopper believed that programming would be easier if the program could be written in in English which the computer could translate into code. Against all expectorations she did just that and this language was eventually called COBAL and it was a mainstay in business programming until the end of the last century.
In 1985 Hopper was promoted to rear admiral, one of a very few women to hold that rank. She stayed on well past retirement age by a special act of Congress.
After 42 years of service Hopper retires in 1986. She dies in 1992 and is buried at Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors.
In 1997 the US Navy commissioned the destroyer USS Grace Hopper in honor of the late admiral.
The ship’s motto is Aude et effice Latin for Dare and Do. Hopper frequently used this phrase when giving advice. It captures her spirit of pushing the limits of conventional thinking.