Grace Hopper

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Grace Hopper

Grace Murray Hopper (New York, December 9, 1906 – Arlington County, January 1, 1992) was an American computer and military scientist with a degree in Rear Admiral. She is a pioneer in the world of computer science and was the first programmer to use the Mark I. Between the 1950s and 1960s she developed the first compiler for a programming language as well as promoting validation methods.

Popularized the idea of ​​a machine independent of programming languages, which led to the development of COBOL, a high level programming language that is still used. Hopper tried to enlist in the US Navy during World War II, but had to join the reserves of the Navy because she was an adult for her 34 years. She was known for her friendships as Amazing Grace.

Grace_Hopper’s Biography

Grace Brewster Murray, was born in New York (USA). Grace was a great-granddaughter of Alexander Russell, an admiral of the United States Navy. This was his model and his personal hero. She was also the granddaughter of a civil engineer, John Van Horne. His parents were Walter Fletcher Murray, insurance broker and Mary Campbell Van Horne. From a very young age, she demonstrated skills in science and mathematics. He always received the support of his grandfather and his father to study them, because he wanted his daughters to have the same opportunities as his son. He was also attracted to any kind of mechanical device, so much so, that with 7 years he disarmed all the clocks in his house to see if he could understand how they worked. In 1930 he married Vincent Foster Hopper, a doctor of literature in English, who for many years was president of the English department of the University of New York. Vincent and Grace divorced in 1945 without having children.


Hopper studied at several private schools for women, and in 1924 she entered Vassar College in New York, where she studied mathematics and physics, graduating with honors in 1928. Soon after, she received a scholarship to pursue a master’s degree in mathematics at the university. from Yale, where he graduated in 1930.

He was offered a position as an assistant in the mathematics department of Vassar College, where he remained until 1943. While continuing his studies at Yale, where he received his doctorate in mathematics in 1934.

Join the army

Following in the footsteps of his great-grandfather, in 1943 he decided to join the armed forces in the middle of the Second World War, for which he had to obtain a special permit. He attended the school of naval cadets for women, graduating the first of his class in 1944 and with the rank of lieutenant. She was sent to Harvard to work on the computer project led by commander Howard Aiken, the construction of the Mark I. At the end of World War II, Hopper wanted to remain in the army but had turned 40 in 1946 (the limit was 38) for which it was rejected, although it could remain in the reserve. So he continued at Harvard as a researcher with Aiken. He developed several accounting applications for the Mark I, which was being used by an insurance company.

He stayed at Harvard until 1949, when Hopper started working at the Eckert – Mauchly Corporation in Philadelphia, which at the time was developing the BINAC and UNIVAC I computers. He worked for that company and its successors until his retirement in 1971. That’s where Hopper made his biggest contributions to modern programming. In 1952, he developed the first compiler in history, the A-0, and in 1957 he made the first compiler for data processing using orders in English, the B-0 (FLOW-MATIC), used mainly for the calculation of payroll .


After his experience with FLOW-MATIC, Hopper thought that a programming language could be created that would use orders in English and that would serve for business applications. With this idea, the bases for COBOL had been established, and two years later the committee that designed this language was created. Although Hopper did not have a leading role in language development, he was a member of the original committee to create it, and FLOW-MATIC was such an important influence in the design of COBOL, that Hopper has gone down in computer history as its creator. . COBOL was the first language that offered an authentic interface to the resources available on the computer, so that the programmer did not have to know the specific details. In addition, the programs developed for a specific platform could be executed in a computer different from the one in which they had been programmed without needing to make changes.

At the end of his professional career he participated in the standardization committees of the COBOL and FORTRAN programming languages.

Re-entry into the army

Hopper remained in the reserve until the end of 1966, when he had to retire with the rank of frigate captain, for having reached the age limit again. But this retreat lasted little, as the navy called back in August 1967 in principle, for a period of six months to standardize the high-level languages ​​they used, but it was indefinite. He retired again in 1971 but was asked to return to active duty again in 1972. He was promoted to Captain in 1973. In 1983 he became Rear Admiral and in 1986 he retired from the Navy permanently, at that time being the oldest officer of the United States Navy. After her retirement, she joined the Digital Equipment Corporation as an advisor, participating in industrial forums, giving some 200 lectures a year and participating in educational programs until her death.

He died while sleeping at his home in Arlington, Virginia, on January 1, 1992 at the age of eighty-five. She was buried with all military honors on January 7 at the Arlington National Cemetery.

More Facts about Grace Hopper

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