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Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Amazing Grace: 1950s

Amazing Grace: 1950s

"Dr. Grace Hopper, director, Systems Research, Remington Rand, half-length portrait, seated, smoking cigarette." The pioneering computer programmer and Navy admiral (1906-1992) is the subject of today's Google Doodle, marking her 107th birthday. New York World-Telegram & Sun Collection. View full size.

On Shorpy:
Today's Top 5

I heard her lecture

I was in grad school, 1977-ish. She was (according to Wikipedia, a Captain at that point)

Anyway, she gave her canned speech, handed out "nanoseconds" (12" long wires, roughly the distance electricity travels in a nanosecond) and was generally a good sport. She wore her Navy uniform and was very impressive. I wish I had known more about her before I went to the talk, I probably would have asked some questions. She went on for another 15 years!

The oldest officer in the US Navy

Here is the cropped picture and a short biography. The Navy even named a destroyer after her. I hope she didn't get cigarette ash into the punched card reader.

The Bug As History

I once visited the Indian Head Naval Station and saw a display case with Adm Hopper's lab notebook in a display case with the pages turned to the one with a dead moth taped onto the page with a note describing it as the first bug identified with a computer problem. It had gotten into an electromechanical relay of an early computer, causing it to fail. I guess the ghost of this bug has continued to plague computers ever since.


My boss was a good friend of hers., and was invited to attend her decommissioning. Admirals are not retired, rather they go through a ceremony on their flag ship called a decommioning. Since she was never on a ship, they had it on the USS Constitution ("Old Ironsides") in the middle of Boston harbor. He was very impressed,

Early Photoshop?

Not to rain on anyone's parade but am I the only one to notice the oddities in this shot? Why are the reference arrows around the head? The background around the head seems to be different than the remainder of the picture. Be all that as it may, she was a true pioneer and we should be thankful to her for a great deal of the digital convenience we all enjoy today.

[Those "reference arrows" are crop marks. The background has been retouched for a newspaper mug shot. - Dave]

Don't bug me...debug me!

She is credited with popularizing the term "debugging" for fixing computer glitches (inspired by an actual moth removed from the computer).


COBOL was essentially my 40 year computer career

Still sharp as a tack at 80

Via Engadget, an interview with Ms Hopper on the Letterman show:

None of the nerds around the office where I work are anywhere near as glamorous as that (and that includes me).

cobol verified

She did indeed invent COBOL..

Thanks, Grace

As an IT professional since 1969, I guess I owe this lady a round of applause for making careers like mine possible.

Nerd? No way!

The admiral reveals a refined sense of style that is wholly incompatible with today's popular impression of computer "geeks."


A beautiful, intelligent woman in a beautiful photo. Didn't she develop COBOL?

SHORPY HISTORICAL PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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