Women in Software: How Grace Hopper Developed Software
Software usage has grown tremendously with the demand of remote work and increase of cloud applications. Today, there are millions of people using software, whether that is for work, school, or personal, in a large variety of fields and industries. We are exposed to software everyday whether we are aware of it or not. From purchases at your local grocery store, to typing on Microsoft Word, software is fused into our everyday lives.
Though so many of us use software, how many of us know the history of software?
We are here to share with you the history of software and highlight Grace Hopper, the software pioneer and key woman figure in the history of software. The whole software industry can be traced back to Grace Hopper, a female US Navy reservist who studied and worked in computer programming during World War II.
Hopper was part of the team working on the original Mark 1 Computer programming in the US Navy. After the war, Hopper continued to work on computing in association with the Navy. In 1952 she created the first operational compiler and led the team that developed the first compiler based programming languages.
The innovation of compliers led to device independent computer software programs, leaving Hopper to be credited with founding the software industry.
As Hopper said at the time “They told me computers could only do arithmetic,’ but 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 allowed any user to access common databases connected to the network.
In addition, Hopper 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”