Grace Murray Hopper

Rear Admiral Grace Murray Hopper (December 9, 1906 – January 1, 1992) was an American computer scientist and United States Navy officer. A pioneer in the field, she was one of the first programmers of the Harvard Mark I computer, and developed the first compiler for a computer programming language. She conceptualized the idea of machine-independent programming languages, which led to the development of COBOL, one of the first modern programming languages. She is credited with popularizing the term “debugging” for fixing computer glitches (motivated by an actual moth removed from the computer). Owing to the breadth of her accomplishments and her naval rank, she is sometimes referred to as “Amazing Grace.” The U.S. Navy destroyer USS Hopper (DDG-70) is named for her, as was the Cray XE6 “Hopper” supercomputer at NERSC.

Honors

    • 1969: She won the inaugural “computer sciences man of the year” award from the Data Processing Management Association.
    • 1971: The annual Grace Murray Hopper Award for Outstanding Young Computer Professionals was established in 1971 by the Association for Computing Machinery.
    • 1973: She became the first person from the United States and the first woman of any nationality to be made a Distinguished Fellow of the British Computer Society.
    • 1986: Upon her retirement, she received the Defense Distinguished Service Medal.
    • 1987: She became a Computer History Museum Fellow Award Recipient.
    • 1988: She received the Golden Gavel Award at the Toastmasters International convention in Washington, DC.
    • 1991: She received the National Medal of Technology.
    • 1996: USS Hopper (DDG-70) was launched. Nicknamed Amazing Grace, it is on a very short list of U.S. military vessels named after women.
    • 2001: Eavan Boland wrote a poem dedicated to Grace Hopper titled “Code” in her 2001 release Against Love Poetry.
    • 2009: The Department of Energy’s National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center named its flagship system “Hopper”.

The Fleet Numerical Meteorology and Oceanography Center is located at 7 Grace Hopper Avenue in Monterey, California.

Grace Murray Hopper Park, located on South Joyce Street in Arlington, Virginia, is a small memorial park in front of her former residence (River House Apartments) and is now owned by Arlington County, Virginia.

Women at the world’s largest software company, Microsoft Corporation, formed an employee group called Hoppers and established a scholarship in her honor. Hoppers has over 3000 members worldwide.

Brewster Academy, a school located in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire, United States, dedicated their computer lab to her in 1985, calling it the Grace Murray Hopper Center for Computer Learning. Hopper had spent her childhood summers at a family home in Wolfeboro.

An administration building on Naval Support Activity Annapolis (previously known as Naval Station Annapolis) in Annapolis, Maryland is named the Grace Hopper Building in her honor.

Building 1482 aboard Naval Air Station North Island, housing the Naval Computer and Telecommunication Station San Diego, is named the Grace Hopper Building.

Building 6007, C2/CNT West, Command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, or C4ISR, Center of Excellence in Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland is named the Rear Admiral Grace Hopper Building.

Grace Hopper’s legacy was an inspiring factor in the creation of the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing. Held yearly, this conference is designed to bring the research and career interests of women in computing to the forefront.