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Grace Murray Hopper (December 9, 1906 – January 1, 1992) is a legendary American computer scientist, a US Navy rear admiral, professor of mathematics, and computer programming inventor.
See the fact file below for more information on the Grace Murray Hopper or alternatively, you can download our 24-page Grace Murray Hopper worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
- Full name: Grace Brewster Murray Hopper.
- Grace was born in New York. Her parents were Scottish and Dutch. Her great-grandfather was a US Navy admiral during the Civil War. She was a curious and smart kid. Grace Hopper went to preparatory school in New Jersey.
- Hopper’s curiosity was so strong, that once when she was a child, she dismantled eight alarm clocks in order to understand how alarm clocks worked.
- When she was sixteen, she not permitted to attend the Vassar College because she had problems with Latin, but the next year she applied again and everything went well.
- Grace graduated with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and physics, and also got a master’s degree at Yale.
- Later, she also got a Ph.D. in mathematics at Yale and wrote a dissertation “New Types of Irreducibility Criteria”. After that she started to work at Vassar College and ten years after that, she became a professor of mathematics.
DISCOVERIES AND INVENTIONS
- When World War II started, she decided to go to the US Navy, but was rejected because of her age (she was already 34), because of her small weight and height, and she was told that her work as a professor at Vassar was much more valuable for the efforts of war.
- In 1943, she took the oath in the US Navy reserve, as did many of the women who volunteered in WAVES (Women in Voluntary Emergency Services).
- She was accepted as an exception. She entered the service in December and studied at the Reserve Cadet School at Smith College. Hopper finished her studies with the best results in the class and was promoted to the artillery computing project bureau at Harvard University as a junior lieutenant.
- She has been programming on the Mark I computer under the guidance of Howard Aiken. Aiken and Hopper co-authored three articles on the Mark I computer, also known as a counting device with an automatic sequence of operations.
- In 1949, Hopper became an employee of Eckert-Mauchly Computer Corporation and, as a senior mathematician, joined the UNIVAC I computer development team. In the early 1950s, their team released the first-ever compiler. It was known as “A Compiler”, and its first version was A-0. This is how Grace reacted: “Nobody believed that,” she said. “I had a running compiler and nobody would touch it. They told me computers could only do arithmetic”.
- Grace always dreamt of inventing a programming language that would be close to English. And in 1959, she worked with other computer experts on creating a new computer programming language COBOL (an acronym for Common Business-Oriented Language). This language was a combination of Hopper’s FLOW-MATIC language with some ideas from the IBM equivalent, COMTRAN.
- So a dream to create close to English programming language came true and COBOL is still in active use nowadays.
- In the 70’s, Hopper convinced the government to replace centralized computer systems that were too big with a network of small computers. She also created a system of standards for testing computer systems and components, especially for FORTRAN and COBOL languages.
- Grace Hopper retired twice. First in 1966 and second time in 1971, but both times she was recalled to active duty because of her knowledge and skills.
- In 1985, she became a commodore by special Presidential appointment. Later commodore was renamed to rear admiral, and Grace became one of a few female admirals of those times.
- When Grace finally retired at the age of 79, she was the oldest active-duty commissioned officer in the United States Navy.
- Her first nickname was “Amazing Grace”.
- After leaving the US Navy, she started her lecturing career: she visited students and told them about early computer programming era.
- Grace also supported students a lot, she once said: “The most important thing I’ve accomplished, other than building the compiler,” she said, “is training young people.” They come to me, you know, and say, ‘Do you think we can do this?’ I say, ‘Try it.’ And I back ’em up. They need that. I keep track of them as they get older and I stir ’em up at intervals so they don’t forget to take chances.”
- In her later years, she got known for her specific lively communication style, and for that she got her second nickname “Grandma COBOL”.
- Grace also is known for creating a term “debugging” in the meaning on fixing the system. The story of how this word appeared is short: once Grace with her team discovered a moth that was stuck in a relay; the moth impeded the operation of the relay. And Hopper said that they needed to do some debugging.
- Hopper created a metonym nanoseconds. She was often asked by Navy admirals why the satellite communication made you wait so long. And Hopper found a good and simple explanation. She handed out pieces of wire that were one foot long (11.8 inches) and said that this is the exact distance that light travels in one nanosecond.
- She named these pieces of wire nanosecond, and the Navy admirals understood.
DEATH AND LEGACY
- Grace Brewster Murray Hopper died on New Year’s Day in her sleep. She was 85 years old.
- She was interred with full military honors in the Arlington National Cemetery.
- During her life, Grace Hopper was awarded 40 honorary degrees from universities all over the world.
- There is an upcoming documentary film called Born with Curiosity: The Grace Hopper Story.
Grace Murray Hopper Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about Grace Murray Hopper across 24 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Grace Murray Hopper worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about Grace Hopper (December 9, 1906 – January 1, 1992) who is a legendary American computer scientist, a US Navy rear admiral, professor of mathematics, and computer programming inventor.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Grace Hopper Facts
- About Amazing Grace
- What’s wrong with Grace?
- What is there behind the letter’s?
- Computer science
- A mystery of nickname
- A helper with wings
- Be curious!
- Check your knowledge
- Help admirals understand
- What was she talking about?
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Link will appear as Grace Murray Hopper Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, April 7, 2019
Use With Any Curriculum
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