Grace Murray Hopper Print
Grace Murray Hopper

Rear Admiral Dr. Grace Murray Hopper was a remarkable woman who grandly rose to the challenges of programming the first computers. During her lifetime as a leader in the field of software development concepts, she contributed to the transition from primitive programming techniques to the use of sophisticated compilers. She believed that "we've always done it that way" was not necessarily a good reason to continue to do so. Grace Brewster Murray was born on December 9, 1906 in New York City. In 1928 she graduated from Vassar College with a BA in mathematics and physics and joined the Vassar faculty. While an instructor at Vassar, she continued her studies in mathematics at Yale University, where she earned an MA in 1930 and a PhD in 1934. She was one of four women in a doctoral program of ten students, and her doctorate in mathematics was a rare accomplishment in its day.
In 1930 Grace Murray married Vincent Foster Hopper. (He died in 1945 during World War II, and they had no children.) She remained at Vassar as an associate professor until 1943, when she joined the United States Naval Reserve to assist her country in its wartime challenges. After USNR Midshipman's School-W, she was assigned to the Bureau of Ordnance Computation Project at Harvard University, where she worked at Harvard's Cruft Laboratories on the Mark series of computers. In 1946 Admiral Hopper resigned her leave of absence from Vassar to become a research fellow in engineering and applied physics at Harvard's Computation Laboratory. In 1949 she joined the Eckert-Mauchly Computer Corporation as a Senior Mathematician. This group was purchased by Remington Rand in 1950, which in turn merged into the Sperry Corporation in 1955. Admiral Hopper took military leave from the Sperry Corporation from 1967 until her retirement in 1971.