Grace Murray Hopper (1906 – 1992)

Hopper was a US navy admiral and math wizard who created COBOL, one of the first computer programming languages. COBOL is still in use today.

Hopper joined the Navy Reserve in 1943, when she was teaching mathematics at Vassar, and finally reached the rank of rear admiral in 1985. Hopper, who repeatedly un-retired and at the time became the oldest woman in the armed forces at the age of 76. In 1949 she started implementing the very first compiler the A-0.

Fun facts about Hopper:

  • She had many nicknames such as: “Admiral Grace,” “Amazing Grace,” and “Grand Old Lady of Software.”
  • Hopper coined the term “bug in the system” because she actually discovered a dead moth in the wiring of the Mark II system. This moth was taped into the machine’s log book, with a note about the “bug”.

The first Computer Bug

Hopper was a funny and imaginative public speaker and teacher. Here she explains the distance electricity travels in a nanosecond:


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