Happy WiSE Wednesday! This week we will feature the amazing computer scientist Grace Hopper. She was a native New Yorker and the oldest in her family. Curiosity struck her as a child and at the age of 7, she was determined to find out how an alarm clock worked. Grace went to school in New Jersey and even though Vassar rejected her at age 16, she was then admitted the following year and graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Vassar in 1928. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and physics and then went on to earn her master’s degree at Yale University in 1930. In 1934, she earned her PhD in mathematics at Yale. Hopper then went back to Vassar where she became associate professor in 1941.
During WWII, Hopper was sworn into the United States Navy Reserve. She had to get exemption to enlist because she was under the minimal weight! Hopper was assigned to the Bureau of Ships Computation Project at Harvard University as a lieutenant. She served on the Mark I computer-programming staff headed by Aiken. She invented the first compiler for a computer programming language and popularized the idea of machine independent programming languages. This led to the development of COBOL, one of the first high-level programming languages. Hopper is credited with the term “debugging” for fixing computer glitches (she once removed a moth from a computer!)