Grace Hopper seemed born with a desire to discover how things worked. Aged seven, her curiosity led her to dismantle every clock in her home! She eventually completed a doctorate in mathematics from Yale University. During World War II, Grace joined the Navy and was assigned to the Navy’s computation project at Harvard University. She met ‘Harvard Mark I’, the first fully functional digital computing machine. Once again, Grace set about to learn how its 750,000 parts and 500 miles of wire worked! While most experts believed computers were too complicated and expensive for anyone but highly trained scientists to use, Grace had her own idea: make them easier to operate so more people could use them! Her work gave rise to the programming language COBOL.
As late 1963, each large computer had its own master language. Grace became an advocate for universally accepted systems. She had the audacity to envision a day when computers would one day be close enough to sit on a desk, more powerful than Harvard Mark I, and useful in offices, schools and at home. With rank of rear admiral, she retired from the Navy at the age of seventy-nine. More important to her, she had lived to see her dream of personal computers come true!