Dr Grace Murrary Hopper



Dr. Grace Murray Hopper was born on December 9, 1906. As a child Grace Hopper enjoyed learning about machines, technology and other countries cultures. Following her motherís love for mathematics and her fatherís love for literature, Grace had high expectations for herself. Family life was large influence as she grew up, from the close relationship she had with her grandfather, a surveyor in New York City, she learned about real life at a young age. Her father, Walter Fletcher Murray, was a successful insurance broker, also taught Grace the importance of a good education to succeed in life. Her mother, Mary Campbell Horne Murray, perused a career in geometry by special arrangement even though it was not an encouraged job for women at this time. Grace\'s great-grandfather, Alexander Russel, inspired her interest in the Navy. Russel had been a rear admiral for the US Navy, a position Grace also filled in her lifetime. Grace\'s parents were progressive in their views of education for females, firmly certifying Grace\'s pursuit of higher learning. Her father believed that Grace deserved a college education as much as his son did, and, with the coming of the depression, he thought it overbearing in order to secure a job in desperate economic times. To that end, Grace attended Vassar College in 1924, and quickly distinguished herself there in the disciplines of science, specifically mathematics and physics. She graduated in 1928 with Phi Beta Kappa honors and a Vassar College Fellowship, and with that scholarship financed continued graduate study in math at Yale University, earning there an MA in 1930 and a Ph.D. in 1934, as well as two Sterling Scholarships and an election to Sigma Xi. It was also during that time that Grace married Vincent Hopper, an English teacher from New York University. After the outbreak of World War II, Grace enlisted in the Navy, despite the disapproval of female cadets. With a Wanting to follow her Grandfathers footsteps Grace perused a naval career even though she did not meet the weight and height requirements to join WAVES (Women Accepted for Voluntary Emergency Service). But Grace received a weight and height waiver and took a leave of absence from Vassar College to join the Navy, even though the government thought that Grace\'s mathematics skills would be better used at home. But she overcame this obstacle too and joined the Midshipmanís School for Women. Grace graduated first in her class as Lieutenant Junior Grade Grace Murray Hopper. From there Grace was assigned to work at the Bureau of Ordnance Computation Project, at Harvard University, to work with computers. Hopper worked under Commander Howard Aiken, and helped work with the Mark I, the first computer automatically sequenced to calculate the angles for the naval guns when the weather is bad. Hopper continued to work on the Mark II and the Mark III. For her achievements with this series she was given the Naval Ordinance Award in 1946.
After the War many of the WAVES went back to their normal lives, but Grace, having just divorced her husband Vincent Foster Hopper, wanted to stay in the Navy. But Grace had just turned forty and the maximum age was thirty-eight, so Grace had to leave. She stayed at the Harvard Computational Lab, still being a member of the Naval Reserves.
In 1966, the Navy asked Hopper to retire again, but after seven months, they found they couldn\'t work without her and asked her return. Grace was asked to return to work for six months, but she ended up staying indefinitely. Upon graduating, Grace was assigned to the Bureau of Ordinance Computation at Harvard University. There she was greeted by Commander Howard Aiken who introduced her to Mark I as "a computer engine". After coming acquainted with the device, Grace received her first mission from Aiken, which was "to have the coefficients for the interpolation of the arc tangents by next Thursday". Officers Robert Campbell and Richard Bloch assisted her in the design of her computer program, which consequently made her the third person ever to program the first large-scale automatically sequenced digital computer in the world. When Grace was programming it, Mark I was being used to calculate the angles at which naval guns were to