Grace Hopper Celebrated Today
Written by Sue Gee   
Monday, 09 December 2019

Today, December 9th is Día Mundial de la Informática and marks the start of Computer Science Education Week. Both these annual events commemorate Grace Hopper, who was born in New York on this day in 1906 as pioneer of Computer Science and as a teacher dedicated to sharing her understanding with young people.


Grace Brewster Murray Hopper,

December 9,1906 - January 1,1992

Grace Hopper is remembered for her role in the developing the Cobol programming language and the person who invented the term "bug". Hers was a long and very interesting career. She started out with the disadvantage of being a woman with an interest in technology. Having studied mathematics at Vasser College, she earned a Ph.D. in  from Yale, but as a woman her options were limited - she could only look forward to teaching maths. Accordingly  she returned to Vassar and started to work her way up through its teaching hierarchy - first as an instructor, then as an assistant professor. However the Second World War intervened and Grace Hopper joined the US Navy Reserve where  she served on the Mark I computer programming staff headed by Howard H. Aiken.

At the end of the war Hopper's request to transfer to the regular Navy was declined due to her age (38). However, she continued to serve in the Navy Reserve.Although she initially retired in 1966, she was recalled to active duty in August 1967 for a six-month period that turned into an indefinite assignment. Her work on COBOL from 1967 to 1977 was as the director of the Navy Programming Languages Group in the Navy's Office of Information Systems Planning. When she finally retired in 1986 she was the oldest commissioned officer in the United States Navy and had rank attained the rank of Rear Admiral.

An overview of her career is provided in this video;

Part of Grace Hopper's legacy has been to inspire efforts to bring the research and career interests of women in computing to the forefront. She is also the figurehead of Computer Science Education Week (CSEdWeek) which was launched by ACM  together with a raft of education organizations, the Anita Borg Institute and Google, Intel, Microsoft in 2009.

Initially CSEdWeek was confined to the US but this changed in 2013 when's first Hour of Code event was scheduled to take place during it. As the Hour of Code gained in popularity spread to other countries so did CSEdWeek. For news of this year's Hour of Code, see Hour of Code Aiming for a Billion Served in 2019. 

dia mundial infromatica

While Día Mundial de la Informática has a longer history - it dates back to 1983, it seems to be confined to Latin America and a search of "World Computer Science Day" doesn't come up with results. Again the choice of date pays homage to Grace Hopper and its focus is Computer Science as a discipline.

If you want to know more about Grace Hopper, I Programmer's History sections has a detailed biography, see Grace Hopper - The Mother of Cobol.

We also have a review of the book Grace Hopper and the Invention of the Information Age, which I gave a rating of only 4 out of 5 on the grounds that it goes in detail into the lives of a larger cast of characters - which isn't really a negative point.

We also have infographics and videos that illustrate her story, some of which include footage of her. See The Life and Times Of Admiral Grace Hopper - Infographic to find the famous Nanosecond video and Grace Hopper's 112th Birthday for her 1991 interview with David Letterman.


More Information

Día Mundial de la Informática

CSEd Week website

Related Articles

Grace Hopper's 112th Birthday

Grace Hopper Born This Day in 1906

The Life and Times Of Admiral Grace Hopper - Infographic

Grace Hopper - Building On Her Legacy 

Grace Hopper & Computer Science Education Week

Grace Hopper - The Mother of Cobol

Grace Hopper and the Invention of the Information Age (book review)

Google Doodle Celebrates Grace Hopper's Birthday

Hour of Code Aiming for a Billion Served in 2019 



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Last Updated ( Friday, 13 December 2019 )