Grace Hopper was one of America’s first computer scientists and among the first women in the U.S. Navy to achieve the rank of rear admiral. Born in New York in 1906, Hopper graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Vassar, then earned a Ph.D. in Mathematics from Yale.
She was teaching math at Vassar during World War II when she joined the WAVES-the Navy’s division for women. In 1944, the Navy assigned Hopper to its Computation Project at Harvard University, where she worked on the first programmable computer. It was the beginning of a new career in the nascent field of computer science. She envisioned people would one day use computers in everyday life – and her achievements helped make that possible.
Hopper was on the team that developed UNIVAC, the first commercial universal computer. She also invented the compiler, which translates instructions into code computers can read and co-developed COBOL, an early computer language still used today. Hopper retired from the Navy at 79, but worked as a computer consultant until her death at age 85 in 1992.