Grace Hopper was born in New York on December 9, 1906. She studied math and physics at Vassar College and graduated in 1928. After receiving her master’s degree at Yale University, Hopper taught at Vasser while continuing her studies at Yale and graduated in 1934 as one of the first women to earn her Ph.D. She continued to teach as an associate professor until she left to join the Navy during World War II. It was there that she learned to program the Mark I computer as lieutenant at the Harvard University Bureau of Ordnance Computation Project.
Hopper continued as reserve officer following the war and worked on the Mark II and Mark III computers. She is noted for using the term “computer bug” to describe a moth she discovered that had shorted out the Mark II computer.
Hopper retired from the Naval Reserve in 1966 after switching to private industry to continue her work with computers. Her career progressed from the Eckert-Mauchly Computer Corporation to overseeing the programming for the Remington Rand UNIVAC computer. She later went on to create a computer language compiler with her team in 1952.
At the age of 60, Hopper was recalled to active duty and went on to standardize communication between different computer languages. She retired as a rear admiral and the oldest serving officer at the age 79. Not ready to settle into retirement, Hopper continued to work in the computer industry and was the first female to be awarded the National Medal of Technology in 1991.
Hopper passed away in Arlington, Virginia, on January 1, 1992 at the age of 85. Her legacy is carried on by promoting education and encouragement of women in computing. She is named in the title of a museum(Gracie’s Place, University of Missouri); an award(Grace Murray Hopper Award, Association for Computing Machinery); a conference(Grace Hopper Celebration of Women In Computing) and a guided missile destroyer(USS Hopper), and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2016.