Computing History

Recently I have been researching a popular female character to computing, called Grace Murray Hopper. During my research I found that Grace was one of the first woman programmers, during world war two. She worked on the first computer in the navy called Mark I which was fifty one feet long, eight foot tall and eight foot wide. This computer could perform three additions per second and store seventy two words. Compared to technology today that does not seem a lot at all.

Furthermore Hopper also created the computer language of COBOT, this was so different because it was the first language to respond to letters and instead of numbers. She jokingly said she created this because she could not balance her check book. However she had a BA in Mathematics, MA in Physics and Mathematics and PHD in Mathematics, which she had gained at Yale University and Vassar University.

She is also credited highly with the invention of the term ‘bug’ with regards to computers. When working with the computer Mark II in 1945, it stopped functioning properly. Due to Hopper fascination with how things worked and stripping alarms clocks from a young age, she began to look for the problem with the computer. She found there was a moth trapped in one of the relays, in the computer. She carefully removed it and pasted it in the log book. This can now be viewed in a museum along with the notes from that day.

Hopper’s work was so good she became one of the oldest serving in the navy, won numerous awards and became a rear admiral, after working through the ranks. She even came out of retirement to continue working for the navy, as a result she retired very late for people of that period. Today she is still recognised for her work and has inspired woman to pursue a career in computing, as well as being a great example in sociology of how woman have broken the traditional gender roles.

Hopper also spoke about nano seconds, watch the video of the interview with Hopper.

Grace Hopper’s Interview on nanoseconds

Overall I think the task went well, I was able to find not only Hoppers life events but also her relationship with computing and linked in another subject to my writing. I was able to develop my skills of researching a given topic using different search engines and keywords. This time I also selected from the task, a person I was not familiar with in order to widen and add depth to my knowledge. Although I do feel I need to improve my skills when skim reading, this will enable me to select useful webpages faster and leave out any repetitive texts. I also need to use specialist terms more and question the information I am reading, to ensure I have analyse each text properly and gained the most useful information from it.

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2 thoughts on “Computing History

  1. Pingback: GoogleDoodleCollection | Grace Hopper animated Computer Google Doodle

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