1906 - 1992

Computer language

Known as the mother of the computer language COBOL, Grace Hopper taught computers to speak our language.

Born in New York City, Grace Murray Hopper earned her PhD in Mathematics in 1934, and subsequently, she taught mathematics in Vassar.

When the World War II started, Hopper joined the US Navy reserve, particularly the team programming the Mark I computer. This was one of the first electromechanical computers in the world.

While working in the Mark II computer, a moth interfered with the computer. After removing the moth, she mentioned that they were ‘debugging’ the computer. Nowadays, this is a cool anecdote for the term ‘debugging’, commonly used in programming.

Hopper continued advancing the computer technology. She participated in the development of the all-electronic digital computer UNIVAC (Universal Automatic Computer).

In 1952, together with her team, Hopper invented the first compiler, which enabled to use common language commands which were then translated into binary language. Thus, ‘she taught computers to speak our language’. This set the bases of computer programming as it is understood today, and it led to the developed of the early high-level programming language COBOL, which remains in use.

Written by: Enriqueta Vallejo-Yagüe.