Feeds

Grace Hopper gave us COBOL, 'debugging' and inspiration. So Google gave her a Doodle

DISPLAY 'Animated tribute to pioneer'. STOP RUN

Boost IT visibility and business value

Google has created a homepage doodle to mark the 107th anniversary of Rear Admiral Grace Murray Hopper's birth.

A pioneering figure in the development of modern computing and programming theory, Hopper, born today in 1906, is credited with developing the programming language COBOL and working with many of the earliest computer systems.

The Google.com tribute features an animated Hopper entering a string of "birthday" code into an early model computer and retrieving a "107" return.

Yale University graduate Hopper trained as a physicist and mathematician prior to joining the US Navy Reserves in 1943 when US involvement in World War II brought a number of women into the military.

During her time in the Navy, Hopper was one of the first people to program the enormous IBM-built calculator called the Harvard Mark I and its successors. And she famously popularized a phrase in the computing lexicon when a moth was found wedged in one of the system's relays: she attached the offending insect to a fault report, describing her work as "debugging" the massive Mark II.

Following the war, Hopper returned to the private sector and worked on the Univac computing platform. She would, however, continue her work with the Navy Reserves throughout her career, retiring in 1986 with the rank of Rear Admiral.

In 1952, she invented the first software compiler, the A-0, which built machine code from mathematical instructions. Hopper's most famous contribution came in 1959 when she developed COBOL to allow users to interact with computers using common language statements. The language has endured for decades and undergone numerous revisions.

A pragmatic and innovative manager, Hopper was best known for encouraging engineers to take risks in development; she often said: "If you've got a good idea then go ahead and do it. It's always easier to ask forgiveness than it is to get permission." During speeches during in her later years, Hopper would hand out 30cm lengths of wire representing the distance light can travel in one nanosecond in a vacuum.

Hopper died on January 1, 1992, aged 85. Following her death, Hopper's name was bestowed upon the Naval destroyer USS Hopper and the Department of Energy's Cray XE6 supercomputing cluster in Oakland, California. Hopper's legacy continues to serve as an inspiration for women in the science and engineering fields. ®

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup

More from The Register

next story
Why has the web gone to hell? Market chaos and HUMAN NATURE
Tim Berners-Lee isn't happy, but we should be
Apple promises to lift Curse of the Drained iPhone 5 Battery
Have you tried turning it off and...? Never mind, here's a replacement
'Stop dissing Google or quit': OK, I quit, says Code Club co-founder
And now a message from our sponsors: 'STFU or else'
Microsoft boots 1,500 dodgy apps from the Windows Store
DEVELOPERS! DEVELOPERS! DEVELOPERS! Naughty, misleading developers!
Linux turns 23 and Linus Torvalds celebrates as only he can
No, not with swearing, but by controlling the release cycle
Scratched PC-dispatch patch patched, hatched in batch rematch
Windows security update fixed after triggering blue screens (and screams) of death
This is how I set about making a fortune with my own startup
Would you leave your well-paid job to chase your dream?
prev story

Whitepapers

Best practices for enterprise data
Discussing how technology providers have innovated in order to solve new challenges, creating a new framework for enterprise data.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Advanced data protection for your virtualized environments
Find a natural fit for optimizing protection for the often resource-constrained data protection process found in virtual environments.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?