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Grace Hopper

Hopper, Grace, 1906–92, American computer scientist, b. New York City as Grace Brewster Murray. She was educated at Vassar College and Yale (Ph.D., 1934). After teaching at Vassar (1931–1943), she joined the U.S. Naval Reserve, serving on active duty until 1946. Assigned to the Bureau of Ordnance's computation project at Harvard, she worked on the Mark series of computers. At the conclusion of World War II she began her search for a means of making computer programs easier to write. Her answer was the compiler, a specialized program that translates instructions written in a programming language into the binary coding of machine language. In 1952 she unveiled the A-0 compiler, and Hopper began working on a compiler oriented to business tasks. In 1955 she introduced FLOW-MATIC, which became the prototype for the first commercially successful business-oriented programming language, COBOL. Hopper returned to active duty with the Navy in 1967, charged with leading the effort to combine various versions of COBOL into USA Standard COBOL. She retired in 1986 with the rank of rear admiral.

See biography by K. W. Beyer (2009).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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