(December 9, 1906 – January 1, 1992)


Amazing Grace was in at the start of the modern computing revolution and dedicated her life to making computers more distributed, easier to use, and more efficient. She invented the first code compiler, was pivotal in the development of COBOL, popularized the term “bug“, and was so good at what she did that the US Navy couldn’t let her go – recalling her twice to duty before old age did her for good.

AMAZING CHILDHOOD:                                                                                                                                                      Image 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Hopper was blessed with parents who were insistent that she receive as good an education as her brother, and she was accepted at Vassar at the tender age of 17 to study mathematics and physics. She joined the faculty there, but carried on studying at Yale to earn her MA in 1930 and a PhD in 1934. She is one of the first people to program the Automatic Sequence Controlled Calculator, better known as the Mark I computer. She wrote the instruction book on how to use the system, and never stopped working with computers after this introduction


                                                 The Mark 1 was the first large computer

As a young girl Grace met her great grandfather, who was an Admiral in the Navy, and was dazzled by his distinguished appearance (Orlando 26). Grace Joined the Navy in 1943, after acquiring waivers for the weight and age requirements. Grace rapidly climbed through the ranks, and by the time she went to work on the Mark I, she was a lieutenant.

Grace left the Navy in 1949 to continue working on computers, then returned in 1967 to teach younger people about the rapidly increasing field of computers. Grace loved teaching as much as working with computers. She was a firm believer in children being the future, and a favorite phrase of hers, quoted by Karwatka is “Ships are safe in port, but that’s not what ships are built for.” Ships being young people, and what they’re made for is going out into the world and making a difference.


                                      The clock in Grace’s office ran backwards



It was while working on the Mark II that on September 9, 1947, Hopper began popularizing the term “bug” to describe a computer error. Back then the bug in question was an actual moth, which had fallen into one of the computer’s mechanical relays and jammed it. Hopper never claimed she invented the term, but she did popularize it and the term “debugging” to describe cleaning-u

Image  The first computer ‘bug’

In 1949, Hopper transferred to work on the Binary Automatic Computer (BINAC) and the UNIVersal Automatic Computer I (UNIVAC I), a commercial computer designed by Eckert-Mauchley Computer Corporation, which later became Unisys. There she worked with  other important female programmers Betty Holburton, Kay McNulty, Marlyn Wescoff, Ruth Lichterman, Betty Jean Jennings, and Fran Bilas.

In 1952 she invented the first compiler, A-0, which translated mathematical symbols into machine code, and updated the system with A-1 and A-2 the following year. “Nobody believed that,” she said. “I had a running compiler and nobody would touch it. They told me computers could only do arithmetic; they could not do programs.”

At the same time she was becoming concerned that computer languages were needlessly complex and began to push for standardization. In 1954 her department introduced the FLOW-MATIC programming language, which used limited English phrases. It was this that led her to play a pivotal role in developing the COmmon Business-Oriented Language (COBOL) in 1959.



COBOL was one of the most successful computer languages and is still in use today. Research by Datamonitor found that in 2008 there were between 1.5 and 2 million developers still working with the 50-year-old programming language, adding five billion lines of code to the 200 billion already running on live systems.



In 1966 Hopper was retired from the Naval Reserve on the grounds of age, but the military found they couldn’t live without her and she was reactivated less than a year later – the first woman to be so engaged. Five years later, at the age of 65, she was let go again and then promptly rehired the following year.



In 1986 she was involuntarily retired from the Naval Reserve (she was then its oldest member) after being promoted to the rank of Rear Admiral, the first woman to achieve such a high rank. She was also presented with the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, the Navy’s highest non-combat medal. It was not her only award. In 1969 she was won the first “computer sciences man of the year” award from the Data Processing Management Association, and was the first woman to be made a Distinguished Fellow of the British Computer Society in 1973.

The Navy loved her back, and in 1995 she became only the second woman to have a fighting ship named after her. The guided missile destroyer USS Hopper is still on active duty and the ship’s coat of arms contains her motto “Aude et Effice” – “Dare and Do”

Hopper carried on teaching, this time as an ambassador for DEC. She still wore her naval uniform to lectures and provided continuing inspiration, particularly to women. Female staff at Microsoft formed a group calling itself Hoppers, and set up a scholarship in her name.

Hopper always said she wanted to see the new century roll over but sadly it was not to be. She passed away on New Year’s Day 1996 and was buried with full Naval honors at Arlington National Cemetery.


While many awards name Grace Hopper added to its name after her death in 1992,the award named Grace Murray Hopper was awarded the Association for Computing Machinery(ACM) since 1971.Award is given to tha young(under 35 years)specialist,who has made significant contributions to the field of computing.  .

Award Winners

1971 Donald Knuth
1972 Paul H. Dirksen, Paul H. Cress
1973 Lawrence M. Breed, Richard H. Lathwell, Roger Moore
1974 George N. Baird
1975 Allen L. Scherr
1976 Edward H. Shortliffe
1977 not awarded
1978 Raymond Kurzweil
1979 Steve Wozniak
1980 Robert M. Metcalfe
1981 Daniel S. Bricklin
1982 Brian K. Reid
1983 not awarded
1984 Daniel Henry Holmes Ingalls, Jr.
1985 Cordell Green
1986 Bill Joy
1987 John Osteraut
1988 Guy L. Steele
1989 W. Daniel Hillis
1990 Richard Stallman
1991 Feng-hsiung Hsu
1992 not awarded
1993 Bjarne Stroustrup
1994 not awarded
1995 not awarded
1996 Shafrira Goldwasser
1997 not awarded
1998 not awarded
1999 Wen-mei Hwu
2000 Lydia Kavraki
2001 George Necula
2002 Ramakrishnan Srikant
2003 Stephen W. Keckler
2004 Jennifer Rexford
2005 Omer Reingold
2006 Daniel Klein
2007 Vern Paxson
2008 Dawson Engler
2009 Tim Roughgarden
2010 Craig Gentry (Craig Gentry)