Dr. Grace Hopper

Ph.D. Mathematics, Computer Scientist, U.S. Navy Rear Admiral

"Humans are allergic to change. They love to say,  ‘We’ve always done it this way.’  I try to fight that. That’s why I have a clock on my wall that runs counter-clockwise.”


Dr. Grace Hopper was a true pioneer in almost every endeavor she took on during her life. She was and to this day is the highest ranking female officer in the US Navy (Rear Admiral). She is one of the few females to ever have a US Navy vessel named after her. She worked on and designed some of the first computers in the world. Her greatest contribution to the world however is the invention of the Computer Complier.

Before Dr. Hopper invented the complier, computers could only be programed with machine level numbers. Now computer programmers simply type in commands using different computer languges. When Dr. Hopper invented the compiler she showed it to many of her male colleagues. She is quoted as saying "I was told very quickly that I couldn't do this because computers didn't understand English." Even after she made a compiler Grace Hopper was still not taken seriously. She said "Nobody believed that I had a running compiler and nobody would touch it. They told me computers could only do arithmetic.". It was not until 3 years later that the compiler was accepted and computer languages started to be created. Dr. Hopper believed that everyone should be given every opportunity to learn and understand computers. For decades she would give speeches to the young and old alike. She was given countless honors throughout her life. Though my favorite is Dr. Grace Hopper won the inaugural Data Processing Management Association Man of the Year Award in 1969. Her name is still being honored and kept alive. Buildings and awards are still being named after her and every year there is an annual Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing: https://ghc.anitaborg.org.

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