Which woman invented the software industry?
Today there are millions of people working in jobs developing, marketing and using computer software. However, few people realise the whole software industry can be traced back to a female US Navy reservist who learnt computer programming in World War II.
US Navy Reservist Grace M. Hopper was part of the team working on the original Mark 1 Computer programming team in the US Navy during World War II. After the war she continued to work on computing in association with the Navy. In 1952 she created the first operational compiler and led the team which developed the first compiler based programming languages. This innovation led to device independent computer software programs.
She can be credited with founding the software industry. As she said at the time “They told me computers could only do arithmetic”. However she proved “them” wrong. Her team went on to create the first programming languages which eventually resulted in the Common Business-Orientated Language (COBOL).
During the 1970s Hopper pioneered networking by advising the Defense Department to replace large centralized systems with networks of small, distributed computers. This meant any user could access common databases connected to the network. In addition, she pioneered the coding and testing standards for software languages, which went on to be adopted by the industry as a whole.
Rear Admiral Grace Hopper retired from the US Navy on August 14th, 1986, at the age of 79. She was promptly hired as a senior consultant by Digital Equipment Corporation and where she worked until her death in 1992, aged 85.
Among other things Grace Hoper is credited with inventing the term “de-bugging” when her team discovered a moth stuck in one of the switches of a faulty Mark II computer. When the moth was removed the computer started working.
Famous quotes by Grace Hopper include:
“From then on when anything went wrong with a computer, we said it had bugs in it”
“If it’s a good idea, go ahead and do it. It’s much easier to apologize than it is to get permission”
“The most damaging phrase in the language is, “We’ve always done it that way””
“One accurate measurement is worth a thousand expert opinions”