Hopper, Grace Murray, 1906-1992

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Grace Brewster Murray Hopper (née Murray December 9, 1906 – January 1, 1992) was an American computer scientist and United States Navy rear admiral. One of the first programmers of the Harvard Mark I computer, she was a pioneer of computer programming who invented one of the first linkers. Hopper was the first to devise the theory of machine-independent programming languages, and the FLOW-MATIC programming language she created using this theory was later extended to create COBOL, an early high-level programming language still in use today.

Prior to joining the Navy, Hopper earned a Ph.D. in mathematics from Yale University and was a professor of mathematics at Vassar College. Hopper attempted to enlist in the Navy during World War II but was rejected because she was 34 years old. She instead joined the Navy Reserves. Hopper began her computing career in 1944 when she worked on the Harvard Mark I team led by Howard H. Aiken. In 1949, she joined the Eckert–Mauchly Computer Corporation and was part of the team that developed the UNIVAC I computer. At Eckert–Mauchly she began developing the linker. She believed that a programming language based on English was possible. Her linker converted English terms into machine code understood by computers. By 1952, Hopper had finished her program linker (originally called a compiler), which was written for the A-0 System. During her wartime service, she co-authored three papers based on her work on the Harvard Mark 1.

In 1954, Eckert–Mauchly chose Hopper to lead their department for automatic programming, and she led the release of some of the first compiled languages like FLOW-MATIC. In 1959, she participated in the CODASYL consortium, which consulted Hopper to guide them in creating a machine-independent programming language. This led to the COBOL language, which was inspired by her idea of a language being based on English words. In 1966, she retired from the Naval Reserve, but in 1967 the Navy recalled her to active duty. She retired from the Navy in 1986 and found work as a consultant for the Digital Equipment Corporation, sharing her computing experiences.

The U.S. Navy Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Hopper was named for her, as was the Cray XE6 "Hopper" supercomputer at NERSC. During her lifetime, Hopper was awarded 40 honorary degrees from universities across the world. A college at Yale University was renamed in her honor. In 1991, she received the National Medal of Technology. On November 22, 2016, she was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama.

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Hopper, Grace Murray, 1906-1992, interviewee. Oral history interview, 1979 July 20th [tape]. Hagley Museum & Library
referencedIn Sperry Rand Corporation. Univac Division. Honeywell vs. Sperry Rand Records, 1935-1973. Hagley Museum & Library
referencedIn President Ronald Reagan greets CAPT. Grace Hopper as she arrives at the White House for her promotion to commodore United States. National Archives and Records Administration
referencedIn Secretary of the Navy, John Lehman, right, promotes CAPT. Grace Hopper to the rank of commodore in a ceremony at the White House. President Ronald Reagan is at the left United States. National Archives and Records Administration
creatorOf Hopper, Grace Murray. Oral history interview with Grace Murray Hopper, ca. 1976. University of Minnesota, Minneapolis
referencedIn Sperry Corporation. Univac Division. Records, 1877-1970. Hagley Museum & Library
referencedIn Sperry Corporation. Univac Division. Technical documents, 1946-1975. Hagley Museum & Library
referencedIn CAPT. Grace Murray Hopper attends a ceremony taking place to dedicate a center for computer learning in her name at Brewster Academy National Archives at College Park
referencedIn Captain Grace Murray Hopper is congratulated by a guest at the conclusion of the ceremony to dedicate a computer learning center in her name at Brewster Academy National Archives at College Park
referencedIn David Smith, headmaster at Brewster Academy, speaks during the ceremony to dedicate the Grace Murray Hopper Center for Computer Learning. Captain Grace Hopper stands to the left. Rear Admiral Paul Sutherland, commander, Naval Data Automation Command, stands in the background National Archives at College Park
referencedIn President Ronald Reagan's Photo Opportunities on December 15, 1983. Presentation of Congressional Gold Medal to Fred Waring in Roosevelt Room, President Reagan meeting Rich Colino of Intelsat in Oval Office, President Reagan Meeting James Fowler President of Lions International in Oval Office, President Reagan, Rich Eilert Author of "For Self Country" in Oval Office, President Reagan Meeting Navy Captain Grace Hopper Who is Sworn as Navy Commodore in Oval Office, Ladies Home Journal Editors Present President Reagan 100th Anniversary Issue in Oval Office, President Reagan Lighting Tree National Christmas Tree with Amy Benham, Choir Singing. South Lawn (President Hugs Child) Ronald Reagan Library
referencedIn CAPT. Grace Murray Hopper speaks at a ceremony taking place to dedicate a center for computer learning in her name at Brewster Academy National Archives at College Park
referencedIn CAPT. Grace Murray Hopper poses for an informal portrait while attending a dedication ceremony at Brewster Academy. The ceremony is taking place to dedicate a computer learning center in CAPT. Hopper's honor National Archives at College Park
referencedIn Women in the Federal Government Oral History Project. Interviews, 1981-1983 (inclusive). Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
creatorOf Hopper, Grace Murray. Interviews, 1983. Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Papers, 1867, 1895, 1902-1948 Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Harvard University. Cruft Memorial Laboratory. Photographs from the Harvard University Cruft Laboratory Photographic Department, ca. 1937-ca. 1959 / Armond J. Dionne, photographer. Harvard University, Archives
referencedIn Captain Grace Murray Hopper is presented with a plaque by David M. Smith, left, headmaster of Brewster Academy, as Kenneth Olsen, founder and president of Digital Corp., looks on, at the ceremony to dedicated a computer learning center in her name at the high school National Archives at College Park
referencedIn Rittase, William M.,. Sperry Corporation photograph collection. Hagley Museum & Library
referencedIn Hopper, Grace Murray, 1906-1992, interviewee. Oral history interview, 1979 July 20th [tape]. Hagley Museum & Library
referencedIn Captain Grace Murray Hopper talks with a student from Brewster Academy at the conclusion of a ceremony to dedicate a computer learning center in her name at the high school National Archives at College Park
referencedIn Koss, Adele Mildred. Papers, 1993-1998 (inclusive). Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Dr. Roger Murray II speaks at the ceremony to dedicate the Grace Murray Hopper Center for Computer Learning at Brewster Academy. Captain Grace M. Hopper is seated to the left. Dr. Murray is the brother of Captain Hopper National Archives at College Park
referencedIn Papers of Helen Brewster Owens, 1867-1948 Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Commodore Grace Hopper (center) stands with President Ronald Reagan and members of her family after her promotion ceremony at the White House. From left to right, her family members are nephew Roger Murray III, his wife Linda and daughter Jennifer, and Commodore Hopper`s sister-in-law Agnes Murray II National Archives at College Park
referencedIn Harvard University Archives Photograph Collection: Subjects, ca. 1850-2004 Harvard University Archives.
referencedIn Harvard University. Cruft Memorial Laboratory. Photographs from the Harvard University Cruft Laboratory Photographic Department, ca. 1937-ca. 1959 / Armond J. Dionne, photographer. Harvard University, Archives
referencedIn Captain Grace Hopper Visits Brewster Academy United States. National Archives and Records Administration
referencedIn Sage Colleges. Archives. Honorary degree recipient for 1983, Grace Murray Hopper. The Sage Colleges Libraries
referencedIn Women in the Federal Government Oral History Project. Records, 1981-1991 (inclusive). Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Captain Grace Murray Hopper signs autographs for students from Brewster Academy at the conclusion of a ceremony to dedicate a computer learning center in her name at the high school National Archives at College Park
referencedIn Society of Women Engineers. Society of Women Engineers records, 1918-1993. Wayne State University. Archives of Labor and Urban Affairs
creatorOf Hopper, Grace Murray. Papers, 1944-1965. National Museum of American History (U.S.). Archives Center
referencedIn Captain Grace Murray Hopper talks with students from Brewster Academy at the conclusion of the ceremony to dedicate a computer learning center in her name at the high school National Archives at College Park
Relation Name
associatedWith Aiken, Howard H. (Howard Hathaway), 1900-1973. person
associatedWith Aiken, Howard H. (Howard Hathaway), 1900-1973. person
associatedWith Atanasoff, John V. (John Vincent) person
associatedWith Babbage, Charles, 1791-1871. person
associatedWith Bloch, Richard M. (Richard Milton) person
associatedWith Campbell, Robert V. D. person
associatedWith Eckert, J. Presper (John Presper), 1919-1995. person
associatedWith Eckert-Mauchly Computer Corporation (Philadelphia, Pa.) corporateBody
associatedWith Evans, Christopher Riche. person
associatedWith Harvard University. Computation Laboratory. corporateBody
associatedWith Harvard University. Cruft Memorial Laboratory. corporateBody
associatedWith HELEN BARTEN (BREWSTER) OWENS, 1881-1968 person
associatedWith Holberton, Frances E. person
associatedWith Hopper, Grace Murray, 1906-1992, interviewee. person
associatedWith Koss, Adele Mildred. person
associatedWith Mauchly, John W. (John William), 1907-1980. person
associatedWith Naval Proving Ground (Dahlgren, Va.) corporateBody
associatedWith Naval Surface Weapons Center corporateBody
associatedWith Owens, Helen Brewster, 1881-1968. person
associatedWith Reagan, Ronald person
associatedWith Remington Rand, inc. corporateBody
associatedWith Society of Women Engineers. corporateBody
associatedWith Sperry Corporation. Univac Division. corporateBody
associatedWith Sperry Rand Corporation. corporateBody
memberOf United States. Navy. corporateBody
associatedWith United States Steel Corporation. corporateBody
employeeOf Vassar College. corporateBody
alumnusOrAlumnaOf Vassar College. corporateBody
associatedWith Westinghouse Electric Corporation. corporateBody
associatedWith Women in the Federal Government Oral History Project. corporateBody
associatedWith Women in the Federal Government Oral History Project. corporateBody
alumnusOrAlumnaOf Yale University. corporateBody
Place Name Admin Code Country
New York City NY US
Arlington VA US
Subject
Computer programs
Computer software
Univac computer
Computer programming
MATH-A-MATIC (Computer program)
Computer programs--Research
Electronic data processing
Computer engineering
Computer industry
Computers--Anecdotes
BINAC (Computer)
Mark I (Calculator)
Computer programming--Management
ENIAC (Computer)
Navy Technical Data System
COBOL (Computer program language)
Occupation
Mathematicians
Women scientists
Computer scientists
Computer programmers
Engineers
Admirals
Function

Person

Birth 1906-12-09

Death 1992-01-01

Female

Americans

English

Information

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