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History of Women in Computing - Grace Hopper 1967

Grace Hopper Grace Hopper

“Hopper is unquestionably the most numerically popular computer pioneer on the Web.” (MIT Press). Hopper didn’t start off with her drive to advance the computing field. She came from a conventential lifestyle as a mathematics major and eventually professor. It wasn’t until later in her life when she dropped her profession and joined the military that she began those advancements that we know her for today.

The cause of this upset in her life was the attack on Pearl Harbor. The day after the attack is the day she divorced her husband, left her job at Vassar College and joined the Navy. One bold move that went against all of her family's wishes at the time. Though she got a lot of her popularity for being a rebel at the time, most of her colleagues remember her for the way that she bridged the gender gap. Often people forgot about their preconceived notions according to gender around her because of the way that she talked, drank, dressed, and much more.

Hopper threw away her conventional life to be a fire starter in the computing field, something that Ada Lovelace did not do. Lovelace took years off to have children and later returned to her studies, but Hopper often went lonely and threw herself into her work. Due to this loneliness though, she drove herself into alcohol addiction and her family members had to talk her off of a cliff.

"If It's a good idea, go ahead and do it. It's much easier to apologize than it is to get permission" - Grace Hopper

Early computing started mechanical and slowly with the help of Hopper’s idea of programming the computer, they made it digital and the 3 calculuation the mechanical device could do in a minute was quickly surpassed by the 5,000 that the electrical device could do. Their fight didn’t stop their they dreamed of a faster and more efficient device.

This didn’t stop here. Though she created many useful techniques of communicating with those devices at the time, her most popular work was the propagation of “automatic programming”. This was the idea that we could communicate with computers with things other than zeros and ones. She came up with the compiler which makes engines literally program themselves, and created the ability to display the modern computer as we see them today. This concept is one that went into creating the first operating system language.


Beyer, K. W. (2009). Grace hopper and the invention of the information age. Retrieved from https://ebookcentral.proquest.com