“bug in the system”

I loved the Google header on Grace Hopper today. I hope it plays for you like the little GIF it is.


There was a cute article on her in the Washington Post today, which I will quote from more extensively than decorum allows:

Hopper received a doctorate in mathematics at Yale and was teaching math at Vassar (her alma mater) when she joined the Naval Reserve. It was 1943, she was 37, and she felt called. As Hopper once told late-night host David Letterman in an eminently entertaining interview, while describing the national effort during World War II: “There was a time when everybody in this country all did one thing … together.”

Hopper was sent to Harvard’s Bureau of Ordnance Computation Project, where she was one of the first programmers on the Navy’s Mark I computer — a 51-foot-long, 8-foot-tall mass of relays and vacuum tubes that was on technology’s cutting edge. Hopper is quoted as saying: “It had 72 words of storage and could perform three additions a second.”

Hopper would work on Harvard’s Mark II and III computers, as well, and go on to work on the UNIVAC I computer. She led the team that invented COBOL (Common Business-Oriented Language), as she pushed for computers to communicate by language instead of numbers.

She also once discovered a problematic dead moth in a computer; she de-bugged the computer, saved the specimen and would be credited with popularizing the term “bug in the system.”



3 thoughts on ““bug in the system”

  1. Our stupid Swiss Google seems to think that nothing is of interest remembering today in the world. So I could watch it on the French page. Why there and not here is an obscure mystery and I think that I don’t want to know it. What is sure is that there are probably many more women who contributed to the glory of science without us knowing their names. I love it when Google honours them. I’m glad that you shared this, Thank you!

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