Grace Hopper

IRL Name: 
Grace Hopper

Rear Admiral Grace was an American computer scientist and a decorated US Navy officer. She graduated from Vassar with a B.A. in Mathematics in 1928 and worked under algebraist Oystein Ore at Yale for her M.A. and Ph.D. She joined the Navy WAVES (Women Accepted for Voluntary Emergency Service) in December 1943. She was one of the pioneer programmers of Mark I, an electro-mechanical computer and IBM Automatic Sequence Controlled Calculator (ASCC). Mark I was used in the U.S. Navy Bureau of Ships.

In 1949, Hopper became an employee of the Eckert-Mauchly Computer Corporation as a senior mathematician and joined the team developing the UNIVAC I.

She also conceptualized the idea of machine-independent programming languages, which led to the development of COBOL,.

She was hired as a senior consultant to the Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC), a position she retained until her death in 1992, aged 85.


First woman appointed as a distinguished member of the British Computer Society.

The U.S. Navy destroyer USS Hopper (DDG-70) was named for her, and so was the Cray XE6 "Hopper" supercomputer at NERSC.

Credited for popularizing the term "debugging" which is used for fixing computer glitches (motivated by an actual moth removed from the computer).

Rreceived the Defense Distinguished Service Medal in her retirement.