Grace Hopper

Commodore Grace M. Hopper, USN (covered)

Grace Hopper – (December 9, 1906 – January 1, 1992) – an American computer scientist and United States Navy Rear Admiral. A pioneer in the field, she was one of the first programmers, and developed the first compiler for a computer programming language. She conceptualized the idea of machine-independent programming languages, which led to the development of COBOL, one of the first modern programming languages.

Photo of “first computer bug”

Debugging – Grace Hopper is credited with popularizing the term “debugging” for fixing computer glitches (inspired by an actual moth removed from the computer). While she was working on a computer at a US Navy research lab in 1947, her associates discovered a moth stuck in a relay impeding operation. She said that they were “debugging” the system. The term bug had been in use for many years in engineering to refer to small glitches and inexplicable problems, but Admiral Hopper made it popular. The remains of the moth are in the group’s log book at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C.

Nanosecond – Grace Hopper is famous for her nanoseconds visual aid. People (such as generals and admirals) used to ask her why satellite communication took so long. She started handing out pieces of wire which were just under one foot long – 11.80 inches is the distance that light travels in one nanosecond.

Computer Science Education Week is observed each year, in recognition of the birthday of computing pioneer Admiral Grace Murray Hopper (December 9, 1906).

The Hour of Code is just one of many different events planned for CSEdWeek. Plan a special event to celebrate.