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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • SYPHILIS ... SIX OUT OF TEN CURED, 1941

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.

 

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.

Decommission

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

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:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1-vcErOPofQ

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."

WOW

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

 
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Shorpy.com | History in HD is a vintage photo blog featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1950s. The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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