There are a lot of women out there who have done miraculous things while serving our country who often don’t get the credit they deserve.
Grace Hopper was an extremely intelligent woman whose love for engineering made her a remarkable computer scientist and an admiral for the Navy.
Grace was born in New York City in 1906. From a young age, Grace had a passion for engineering, which stemmed from her curiosity about how household items worked. For instance, she would often take apart things like alarm clocks around the house so she could reassemble them.
After graduating high school, she got her bachelor’s degree from Vassar College and her Ph.D. in mathematics from Yale University. In 1930, she married NYU Professor Vincent Foster Hopper.
Although they divorced 15 years later, she kept his last name.
Grace worked as a math teacher and associate professor at Vassar until 1943, when she joined the Navy. That year, she joined as a part of the Navy WAVES, which stands for Women Accepted for Voluntary Emergency Service.
In 1944, Grace became a lieutenant and was assigned to work on the Bureau of Ordnance Computation Project at Harvard University. Grace helped produce the Mark I computer, which was one of the earliest electromechanical computers used during World War II. It was also used during the Manhattan Project.
While working on the Mark I, Grace was the first computer scientist to use the word “bug” to describe a computer system malfunction. During this time, she also wrote a whopping 500-page manual, which broke down the basics of operating computing machines.
When the war ended, Grace was invited to be a research fellow at Harvard University. Then, in 1949, she worked for the Eckert–Mauchly Computer Corporation, which built computer designs for military use. Grace’s outstanding work with computers continued from there, as she worked on the first all-electronic digital computer, invented the first computer compiler program, and co-developed COBOL, a computer programming language used for business use. She was lovingly known in the technology world as “Grandma COBOL.”