Grace Hopper: The mother of all programmers and one of the most important women in the world of technology

Born in 1906, Grace Murray Hopper, how few people contributed to the development of computer technology. For many years she served in the army and created the foundations for one of the historically most important programming languages: COBOL. It is believed that it was the first to use the term "bug" in the IT context and that it is largely due to the popularization of the profession of programmer

Grace Hopper: The mother of all programmers

She was born in New York at the beginning of the 20th century and as a young woman she obtained a master's degree in mathematics at Yale University, to obtain a doctorate a few years later. At that time, not many women could boast of such a scientific title. Hopper was one of the few female doctors of mathematics in the USA.

She professionally taught mathematics in college during the Second World War - until she was appointed in 1943 to the reserve US Navy ranks. Having obtained the rank of lieutenant a year later, she began working for the army at the Harvard University. It was about programming the computer of Mark I. Considering her academic education, she was an ideal person for the armed forces.

The first bug in history

In the post-war years - as a reserve officer - she continued to work at the university, developing technologies related to computers Mark II and Mark III. Anecdote says that once the moth flew inside the equipment and caused a short circuit; from this event Hopper popularized the term "computer bug" (bug from English is a worm), which refers to the failure of a computer program.

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In 1949, she started working for the private sector - first at Eckert-Mauchly Computer Corporation and then at Remington Rand, where in 1952 Hopper and her team created the first ever computer compiler that became a precursor to the COBOL programming language ( common business oriented language). Soon after, COBOL would turn out to be one of the most-used languages ​​in the world of computer science, and although today some experts consider it outdated, they still use it.

Hopper believed that programming languages ​​should be as intuitive as possible and resemble the language we use on a daily basis. This is exactly what COBOL is, which is characterized primarily by the use of very literal, descriptive commands.

Career until late

The pioneering work of Hopper was not forgotten by the army - the woman was restored to active service in 1966, at the age of 60, to help develop common standards for various programming languages. She retired at age 79 as the oldest officer in the American military ranks. However, she said that without working, she would "be bored to death", so she remained in the IT industry for the next few years. In 1991, as the first woman in history, she received the National Medal of Technology. She died a year later, at the age of 85.

She was remembered not only as an outstanding scientist and woman who greatly contributed to the development of computer technology, but also as a man who strongly encouraged young people to learn programming. Its heritage is continued through the cyclical conference The Grace Hopper Celebration in Computing, which aims to activate women in the profession of programmer.

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