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

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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. ®

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