Monday, December 9, 2013

Computer Pioneer: Grace Hopper

Happy birthday to Grace Hopper, a computer scientist and  Rear Admiral in the United States Navy.Today on the Google home page, Grace Hopper is remembered on her 107th birthday. What did she do to earn a special doodle on Google?
Image courtesy of thepathtraveler at
Grace worked on the Mark 1 computer at Harvard University, the first computer ever! She was in charge of programming it. At the time noone believed computers would ever be able to communicate with words since they were programmed with numbers only. But Grace changed that by developing a language for computers so they could "speak" English and use numbers. Her program eventually became the COBOL programming business language used today.

She was also the one who coined the phrase "a bug in the system" because while working on the Mark 1, a co-worker discovered a moth within the computer. This "bug" caused one of the circuits to malfunction. Grace took the moth and taped it into her logbook. This page along with her records on the first computer  is on display at the U.S. Naval Surface Weapons Center in Dahlgren, Va.

By the way, this machine does not resemble the computers we see today. Instead, it was almost as long as a semi-truck's trailer, 51 feet, 8 feet tall, and 8 feet wide.

Mark 1 Computer
Learn more about this creative scientist, at the Yale page highlighting Grace Hopper's career. 
Go to to see the Google Doodle honoring Grace Hopper and to pull up lots more information on this amazing woman/sailor.

Do you use a computer? Do you have a dream to develop new computers or programs? I would love to hear from you. Best wishes on working toward your dream job!


  1. Like your jumping girl logo. Quite appropriate.

    And a big thanks for the article on Grace Hopper. I've known about her huge contributions to computing for many many many (too many) years. I've always love the story about the bug in the machine.

    Long Live Ada Lovelace too! (not Linda, but Ada. An important distinction).She was WAY ahead of the times.

    1. Thank you, Marva. The title of this photo when I downloaded it was Happy Jumping Girl. You are right on! I must admit I had to google Ada Lovelace. I had no idea a woman in the 1840's could be such a brilliant mathematician credited with being the world's first computer programmer. Thanks for this tidbit. I will feature her here on the blog after more research.

  2. Hi, J Q! I like the new look to your blog. Thanks for sharing about Grace Hopper.