Grace Hopper: 107th birthday of American computer scientist marked with Google Doodle

  • @bobjwilliams

The American computer scientist and United States Navy Rear Admiral has been honoured with a Google Doodle on what would have been her 107th birthday.

She is probably most celebrated for her pioneering work in the development of COBOL, one of the first programming languages that could work independently of a particular machine, but we should perhaps thank her most for her popularisation of the word 'debugging' - dating from an anecdote when an actual moth was found in a computer she was working on, and that was slowing down its processes.

Born Grace Brewster Murray in New York City in 1906, she expressed her curiosity in the world by dismantling several alarm clocks, much to her mother's consternation.

She graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Vassar College in 1928 with a degree in Mathematics and Physics and then studied at Yale.

She married once, to a professor and, although they divorced, and she never remarried, she retained his surname.

During World War Two Hopper worked in the Navy as a computer programmer, and worked in and out of it until her retirement at the age of 60, although she was recalled to active duty, finally retiring at the age of 79.