The Queen of Code - Grace Hopper

The Queen of Code - Grace Hopper

Throughout history there have been a lot of queens, queens of countries, queens of music but there is only one queen of code and that is Grace Hopper

Hopper invented the first compiler pioneered programming languages and she was one of the first programmers on one of the earliest digital computers she was an U.S. Navy rear admiral.

Early Life

Grace Hopper was born in Newyork city on 1906 as a child she was know to take things apart to see how they worked.

She had the support of her parents, her father especially who even way back then understood the importance that her daughters had the same education that his son going to have.

She went on a college to graduate from Vassar with a degree in Maths and Physics then she went to Yale and earned a Phd in Math which was a rare achievement at that time.


Hopper started her career as a college mathematics teacher going against the mold. She pushed her students to not just perform calculations but explain math using words. The tendency of converting complex mathematical equations into english words.

After teaching maths for nearly an decade hopper was ready for something more. she took timeoff from work to study with the noted mathematician Richard Cornot shortly the Second world war begins.

At the age of 36 she quit her teaching career, and joined the Naval army when the war was in full swing the Military accompanied with the technology to crack enemy communications Among those the Harvard Mark1 where hopper was assigned to work with.


Havard Mark1 is all about 51 feet long, 8 feet high, 8 feet deep had all of 72 words in it which could do 3 editions per second

Mark 1

She had to translate real world problems into mathematical equations and then translate those equations into commands the computer could understand.

Howard Aiken who was also working on Havard Mark1 who was the mastermind behind the computer. However he wasn't a fan of having a woman in his team. At one point he gave the task of documenting on "How to work with Mark1".

She took her task very seriously writing a 500 page document which was the world's first computer programming manual.

MARK1 - Documentation - Source: History of Information

After that Aiken made Hopper as his primary programmer and top deputy and during this time hopper coined and popularized the term debugging in releation to computing

First computer bug - Source: Wikipedia

In 1949, hopper again changed her career and entered into corporate joining the team that was developing UNIVAC 1. Around the same time she worked on the world's first compiler. After succeeded with this new concept in 1952.

UNIVAC Team Source: Wikipedia

First Compiler based language

On top of the compiler, Hopper and team released first compiler based programming-languages including Flow - Matic

FlowMatic Programming Language

Flow-Matic would be pivotal in the creation of COBOL the popular language for data processors. Hopper continued to work in the world of computers by steadily growing in rank in Navy until she became rear admiral

Image source: Wikipedia

After she retired she kept on teaching and giving lectures until her death in 1992. Despite many technical accomplishments in her life she said her greatest joy came from teaching.