NewsGoogle Honors Grace Hopper, Inventor of COBOL

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For its home page “Doodle” on December 9, Google chose to celebrate the 107th birthday of computer science pioneer Grace Hopper.

Known as “Amazing Grace,” Hopper studied math and physics at Vassar and Yale before joining the U.S. Navy Reserve during World War II. (They wouldn’t let her join the regularly Navy because she was too old—38.) Assigned to the Bureau of Ordinance Computation Project at Harvard University, she became the third person in history to program the Harvard Mark I computer. Later, Hopper went on to help invent the UNIVAC I computer and lead the team that first developed the COBOL programming language. She remained in the military and achieved the rank of rear admiral.

Hopper is also credited with the first “de-bugging” of a computer system. In her case, the problem was caused by an actual moth that got stuck in the workings of the hardware.

Hopper passed away on January 1, 1992, and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

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