Admiral Grace Murray Hopper

Name: Name: Admiral Grace Murray Hopper
Birth/death: December 9,1906- January 1, 1992

American Computer Scientist and United States Naval Officer

Bio Summary:
Grace was one of the revolutionary programmers for the first Harvard Mark 1 calculator, and a compiler of computer programming language. She was sometimes referred to as "Amazing Grace" by fellow collegues and gave birth to the new term "debugging". She was also known for her lively character and rich treasury of early war stories.

Early Life/Education:
Grace was born in New York city. She graudated from Vassar College with a bachelor's degree in the year 1930. She also aquaried a Ph.D. in mathematics and married Vincent Hopper who was a well known chairman in the NYU English department. Although in 1945 they divorced and Grace continued to teach mathematics.

Career Outline:
In the year 1943,Grace dived into serving for the United States Navy Reserve (WAVES). Her whole career was mainly surrounded by serving the country, from being assigned to work in the Bureau of Ships to serving as a computer programmer for the "Mark 1 computer". Even though Grace had the chance to be a full time professor at Vassar she continued to work under her Navy contract.

Impact on Gaming:
Despite her dedication to the Navy she was well known in gaming history as a exceptionaly smart computer programmer. She worked on the development of programming languages such as FORTRAN and COBOL, which became important information communication between computers.

Grace was always known as a bright individual when it came to mathematics and had always been inspired by helping the people around her. Having evidence of constant service to the Navy, her greatest influence seems to be solely on the fact that she strives to help everyone.

She was noted best of course for her knowledge with computer programming and mathematics.Despite being so involved with the Navy, Grace never really went into battle. In fact, Grace was awarded the "Defense distinguished Service Metal", the highest non-combat award possible. By looking back at her accomplishments she perceived to be a very discipled and helpful individual as well as a bit proud for her Navy service. For instance, when she gave lectures she would wear her full Navy uniform!

While not many are aware of the term "debugging", the saying was brought into popularity by Grace herself. While working on the Mark 2 Computer at Harvard University a moth was trapped in the "points of Relay #70, in Panel F". Having finally found the moth and removed it they were able to fix the problem due to the bugs body and began to give light to the term "a bug in the system", "debugging" and a few other related phrases to this incident. (See photo!)

A few other phrases she always said was, "It's easier to ask forgiveness than it is to get permission". Most likely this phrase was brought up during her military days in the Navy. Another phrase she would say consistently was, "A ship in a harbor is safe, but that is not what a ship is built for." The last notable phrase she said often was, "I believe in having an open mind, but not so open that your brains fall out." Apparently Grace had a sense of humor.

"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, which is the distance that light travels in one nanosecond. She gave these pieces of wire the metonym "nanoseconds." Later she used the same pieces of wire to illustrate why computers had to be small to be fast. At many of her talks and visits, she handed out "nanoseconds" to everyone in the audience, contrasting them with a coil of wire nearly a thousand feet long, representing a microsecond. Later, while giving these lectures while working for DEC, she passed out packets of pepper which she called picoseconds. (

Gameography: N/A She did not directly create any games but she made them possible by creating the hardware and software that games need to run.

Related Links:


Contributors To This Listing: Amber Howard