Grace Hopper graduated from Vassar College in 1928 with Phi Beta Kappa and a Vassar College Fellowship. She went to Yale University, where she earned an M. A. in 1930, and a Ph. D. in 1934. She also went to New York University as a Vassar Faculty Fellow in 1941. In December 1943 she was sworn in, and in May 1944, she joined the U. S. Naval Reserve and attended the USNR Midshipman School. Later she was commissioned as a Lieutenant and ordered to the Bureau of Ordinance Computation Project at Harvard, this is where she learned to program computers.
In 1946, she went to inactive duty, then was recalled to active duty August 1967. She was appointed on 8 November 1983 as Commodore; the title of that grade changed to Rear Admiral on November 1985. She also was a senior mathematician at Eckert-Mauchly Computer Corp. in Philadelphia, and programed the UNIVAC I, the first commercial large-scale electronic computer. She stayed untill when it was bought by Remington Rand and latter merged with Sperry Corporation. At her retirement ceremony aboard the U. S. S. Constitution in Boston, Navy Secretary John F. Lehmann Jr. resented Admiral Hopper with the Distinguished Service Medal.
More than 40 colleges and universities have conferred honorary degrees on Admiral Hopper, and she has been honored by her on several occasions. She was the recipient of the first Computer Sciences “Man of the Year” award presented by the Data Processing Management Association. Her entry in “Who’s Who” requires 34 lines to thumbnail her accomplishments, appointments, and honors. Grace Murray Hopper spent a lot of time tring to prove that something that’s never been done before isn’t impossible.
This lead Hopper to invent the first computer “compiler” in 1952. This software made the first automatic programming of computer language easier. Before, programmers had to write lengthy instructions in binary code for every new piece of software. Because binary code consists solely of 0’s and 1’s, it was difficult for programmers to get through their long tasks without a lot of mistakes. Hopper knew there had to be a solution. She wrote a new program that helped software developers from having to write binary code.
Each time the computer needed instructions that were common to all programs, the compiler would have the computer refer to codes in its own memory. The compiler great advance for the computer world. After this she also invented COBOL, the first user-friendly business software program. She retired in 1986 and was remembered for questioning the impossible. She had a Ph. D. in mathematics and physics from Yale University. In her office, she had a clock that ran counterclockwise as a reminder that most problems have more than one solution.
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