School of Information Science - Hall of Fame

Grace M. Hopper
  • Grace M. Hopper
  • Born: December 9, 1906
  • Died: January 1, 1992
  • Field: Computer science; software engineering
  • Focus: Invented the compiler for programming languages. Involved in the creation of countless software engineering techniques and developments.
  • Country: United States
  • Era: 1950 to 1969

Admiral Grace Murray Hopper is best known for inventing the compiler. She was one of the first software engineers. Her work led to the developement of COBOL. She was also involved in many developments for code optimization, symbolic manipulation, subroutines, and formula translation. Throughout her career Hopper worked in the military, academe, business, and private industry. For instance, she was a consultant for Digital Equipment Corporation until her death in 1992.

She graduated from Vassar with a B.A. in mathematics and then earned an M.A. and Ph.D. from Yale. In 1943, she joined the Navy WAVES (Women Accepted for Voluntary Emergency Service). In July of 1944, she was commissioned a lieutenant. Hopper then begain with the military where she wrote a manual that outlined the fundamental operating principles of computing machines. This manual was the result of her working on the Mark I. Hopper then went on to work on the Mark II. In 1949, she began working at the Eckert & Mauchly Corporation and maintained a relationship with the company and its successors until 1971 when she retired. She was buried with full Naval honors at Arlington National Cemetery.

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