Grace Hopper

Written by IEEE SB on
Grace Hopper

“Debugging”. One word which can send shivers down the spine of most programmers. And yet, the most crucial piece of the jigsaw called software development. As we, the members of IEEE JU Student Branch, celebrate women and their pioneering work in various fields of science and technology, we unveil another such influential figure: Grace Murray Hopper: the first person to use the word “bug” to refer to a computer problem. Grace Murray Hopper came of age at a time of unusual opportunity for women. Having received her PhD in mathematical physics from Yale, Hopper took a sabbatical from Vassar College where she taught Mathematics to join the war effort soon after Pearl Harbour. Hopper joined the U.S. Naval Reserve (Women’s Reserve) in December 1943 and was assigned to the Bureau of Ships Computation Project at Harvard University.One of the first three computer “programmers,” Hopper was responsible for programming the Mark I and punching machine instructions onto tape. She also wrote the 561-page user manual for the Mark I. She was equally pivotal in the development of Mark II and Mark III and for the popularisation of more user friendly programming languages, particularly the development of COBOL. Women in Science and Tech Series (2/7)


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