Someone We Should Remember

English: Commodore Grace M. Hopper, USNR Offic...

English: Commodore Grace M. Hopper, USNR Official portrait photograph. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What does it take for someone to have a navy ship named for them, and a tech conference as well? How about if it’s a woman? It takes a lot. Likely though, you’ve never heard of her.

I’m lucky, I guess, I have. She was the graduation speaker (a good many years ago) when my niece graduated William and Mary. She was also a pretty good speaker. Who was she? Professor Admiral “Amazing Grace” Hopper, PhD.

Grace Hopper isn’t a household name. But it should be.

As Megan Smith, Chief Technology Officer of the United States, noted in the short documentary The Queen of Code:

“She’s like an Edison of our day. Like a Turing. And yet Hopper isn’t with those names in the history books. And it needs to be.”

Why Should Hopper’s Name Be in the History Books?

Let’s start with this: To the best of my knowledge, Grace Hopper is the only person in history to have both a tech conference (the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing — the world’s largest gathering of women technologists) and a U.S. Navy destroyer (the 500-foot, 7,000-tonU.S.S. Hopper) named in their honor.

Those two accolades might begin to give you a sense of just how extraordinary the accomplishments of Professor Admiral “Amazing Grace” Hopper, PhD truly were. (And yes, those titles are legit.)

In 1934, Hopper became the first woman to earn a PhD in mathematics from Yale (which she earned in absentia while teaching math and physics at Vassar College). Then, in 1985, at the age of 78, she became the first woman to reach the rank of Admiral in the U.S. Navy.

As you might imagine, a lot of stuff (in this case, stuff that would revolutionize the world of computing) happened in-between those two events.

In 1943, Hopper joined the Naval Reserves. Three years later, she was assigned to inactive duty at Harvard’s Computation Laboratory, where she worked on programming the Mark I — the first computer that could automatically execute long computations.

In 1949, she joined the Eckert-Mauchly Computer Corporation, where she worked on programming the UNIVAC I — the world’s first large-scale electronic computer.

Hopper was one of the first computer programmers … ever.

Know the expression “debugging” a computer? Hopper was one of the first people to use it. And at the time, it referred to literally removing bugs (moths, in particular) from computer components.


During her time at Eckert-Mauchly, Hopper had a breakthrough idea — an idea that would come to define her computing career. After noticing that her fellow programmers were constantly writing the same commands over and over, Hopper suggested that they write their commands down once and then store them in shared libraries.

By 1952, this idea had evolved into the world’s first compiler (Hopper’s greatest innovation), which allowed programmers to store and recall code using English language-based commands.

But You’ve Probably Never Heard of Her

Source: There’s a Navy Destroyer & a Tech Conference Named After This Person — ReadThink (by HubSpot) — Medium

A truly great woman, who get far less recognition than she deserves for her seminal, and objectively stunning contributions, that in large part have made the world we live in possible. Another Edison? Yes, but maybe even more, perhaps another Nikola Tesla, because of the wide range of applicability of her inventions.

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About NEO
Lineman, Electrician, Industrial Control technician, Staking Engineer, Inspector, Quality Assurance Manager, Chief Operations Officer

21 Responses to Someone We Should Remember

  1. An amazing American, who just happened to be a woman… “her promotion to Commodore (Admiral, O-7) by special Presidential appointment… She remained on active duty for several years beyond mandatory retirement by special approval of Congress.[28] In 1985, the rank of Commodore was renamed Rear Admiral (Lower Half). She retired (involuntarily) from the Navy on August 14, 1986. At a celebration held in Boston on the USS Constitution to celebrate her retirement, Hopper was awarded the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, the highest non-combat decoration awarded by the Department of Defense. At the time of her retirement, she was the oldest active-duty commissioned officer in the United States Navy (79 years, eight months and five days), and aboard the oldest commissioned ship in the United States Navy (188 years, nine months and 23 days).”

    She was interred with full military honors in Arlington National Cemetery.” (Wiki)

    Liked by 1 person

    • NEO says:

      Indeed so! 🙂

      Like

  2. the unit says:

    Great acknowledgement. Interesting information @ Wiki. Compared to Hillary, her “lower half” was more qualified to be considered for President. Imagine if we knew about her upper half!
    And clock boy was generations behind her any half or quarter passed whatever. And she didn’t claim to have built one, but likely could have.

    Liked by 2 people

    • NEO says:

      Yep, a very, very accomplished woman, by any standard at all.

      Like

      • the unit says:

        I served with her. Wasn’t difficult as she served beginning the year after I was dropped out on my head and then Years of service1943–1966, 1967–1971, 1972–1986. I was there in the middle somewhere. 🙂
        O said he wanted to serve, but “nothing was going on” in the last years.

        Like

  3. That is some name, and an interesting story. Debugging computers…from moths! I can just see it…those old, massive units, like closets of technology, little cargo ships of the future, just waiting to advance. Maybe someone will get her name into the books?

    Liked by 1 person

    • NEO says:

      Isn’t it though! More like a middle sized room than a closet though, and yep, that’s where the term comes from. She’s decidedly someone we should celebrate.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, a middle sized room would work too! I guess I was thinking more along the lines of large walk-in closets…some of those are rooms in themselves. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        • NEO says:

          Yep, they surely are. I can’t say I really understand them.

          Liked by 1 person

        • Spare ‘ooms are like that you know…just keep walking through all the coats, sort of like in a big armoire, until you start to feel a little cold. Then make sure you put one, and keep going…something about a land called…Narnia? 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

        • NEO says:

          If only more of us had made that journey, it was the best one of my life, especially in allegory! 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

        • I agree! Well, we can always pretend over at your site…I see the snow is back! It has been a few Christmases since we had a snow ball fight, eh? Duck!

          Liked by 1 person

        • NEO says:

          Yeah, it has! What two, maybe even three. Duck! 😀

          Liked by 1 person

        • LOL 🙂 Now thats always fun!

          Liked by 1 person

        • NEO says:

          LOL! Indeed so!

          Liked by 1 person

        • 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

        • On just a side note, let me recommend reading Alan Jacob’s book: The Narnian, The Life and Imagination of C.S. Lewis, (Harper, 2005)… Grand!

          “Child,” said the Lion, I am telling you your own story, not hers, No-one is told any story but their own.”

          Liked by 2 people

        • “Child,” said the Lion, I am telling you your own story, not hers, No-one is told any story but their own.” I love that! If you have a chance to check out the sketch I did recently, it sort of ties into that idea…in a little more blunt way, though. 🙂

          Thank you for the book recommendation!

          Liked by 1 person

        • 🙂

          Like

  4. PatriotUSA says:

    Nicked for sharing. And they want to put ‘who’ on the new money?? A stellar American of outstanding accomplishments and not that anyone in the Black House regime is paying attention.

    Liked by 1 person

    • NEO says:

      Indeed! And she surely is!

      Liked by 1 person

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