Grace Hopper, brought a revolution in the field of computers. She was the first to explore computer programming. She is rightly known as the Queen of Computer Code. Her motto in life was “Dare and Do”.
Grace Brewster Murray Hopper was a Computer Scientist, mathematician, and Admiral in the U.S. Navy.
Birth and Education
Born on December 9, 1906, in New York City, USA, Grace was brought up by her parents very nicely. Father, Walter Fletcher Murray, and mother, Mary Campbell Van Home, provided all sorts of books to develop her curiosity. They always motivated her to be self-reliant and hard-working to fulfill her dreams. Grace was their eldest child.
Grace completed her schooling in New York and New Jersey. She did her graduation and masters in Mathematics from Vassar College. From Yale University, Grace completed her Ph.D. in Mathematics in 1930.
Grace Murray was married to Vincent Hopper in 1930. He was a professor at New York University. The couple got separated in 1945. They had no children.
Grace Hopper’s success journey began when she joined as a Mathematics Assistant at Vassar College in New York.
Second World War
Grace tried to join the military during the Second World War in 1941. But she was refused due to her height. She was a good mathematician. So, she was selected.
Later in 1943, Grace joined the Naval Reserve for training and became a Battalion Commander. In 1944, Lieutenant Grace Hopper joined a team, who were working on the computer, Harvard Mark I, which was approximately 51 feet long and built by IBM. She used to sleep beside the machine to repair if anything went wrong. Hopper learned a lot in this team.
After the War
In 1949, Grace became a Senior Mathematician in a company that built ENIAC, an electronic computer. She started working for a computer that could do the programming by itself.
In those days, the computer was using machine-coded language which was not used by the general public. So, Grace started working in the direction that computers will use human-friendly languages and then it will translate them into machine code. And her team was successful in inventing a TRANSLATOR, which is now known as COMPILER. The credit for inventing Flow-Matic and A-OI goes to Grace.
For many years, many young computer scientists joined her team and learned a lot from her.
Murray published two books- A History of Programming Languages and The Education of a Computer (1984) and Computers and People: A Refection (1991).
At the age of 79, ‘Amazing Grace’ retired from the Navy. She was never fully retired. She continued working as an industry consultant.
On January 1, 1992, at the age of 85, in Berkeley, California, Grace Hopper left this world. Her body is interred at Arlington National Cemetery.
In her life, Grace Hopper was influenced by Howard Hathaway Aiken and John Mauchly, American Physicists, and Richard Courant, a German-American Mathematician.
Awards and Recognitions
During her lifetime and also after her, awards and recognitions flooded in the name of Grace. She received 40 honorary degrees, 9 military awards, and 26 other awards and recognitions. Also, many colleges, parks, streets, buildings, awards, bridges, meeting halls, a supercomputer, missiles, etc are named in her honor.
Even a minor planet discovered by Eleanor Helin is named ‘5773 HOPPER’ in her honor.
In 2020, Google also did not stay back in honoring Grace. It named an undersea network cable ‘GRACE HOPPER.’
Grace Murray Hopper’s famous quotes which still inspire the world are as under:
- “A ship in port is safe, but that’s not what ships are built for.”
- “It is often easier to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission.”
- “You don’t manage people, you handle things. You lead people.”
- “One accurate measurement is worth a thousand expert opinions.”
- “I have always been more interested in the future than in the past.”
- “Humans are allergic to change.”
Her most disliked phrase was -“Why we’ve always done it that way.”
Grace Hopper’s invention gained international attention. Once she told her biographer that teaching was her greatest joy.
The life of Grace Hopper is one of the most inspiring ones. She worked like a hero, a noble scientist, a magician, and a revolutionary. Her life showers a positive and daring impact on every woman. Really, Grace was a boon to the universe.