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Inventors
Howard Aiken and Grace Hopper
The inventors of the Harvard MARK 1 Computer were Grace Hopper and Howard Aiken.

Harvard Mark 1 Computer

 
Grace Hopper and Howard Aiken
Featured Story and more on
Grace Hopper
Mark I: Howard Aiken & Grace Hopper
Howard Aiken with the assistance of Grace Hopper, designed the MARK series of computers at Harvard University. The MARK series of computers began with the Mark I in 1944.
Looking Back: 
Grace Hopper's Younger Years
Remembering 
Grace Hopper A Legend in Her Own Time
Related Innovations
Computers
Women Inventors
By Mary Bellis

Grace Hopper - Biography
Grace Hopper (1906-1992) was one of the first programmers to transform large digital computers from oversized calculators into relatively intelligent machines capable of understanding "human" instructions. Hopper invented the first computer "compiler" in 1952. A compiler is software that makes other computer software called programming languages easier to write. Computer programmers had been required to write programming instructions in binary code, a series of 0's and 1's. Grace Hopper's compiler allowed programmers to use more human sounding language commands to replace repetitive commands.

Grace Hopper also developed a common language with which computers could communicate called Common Business-Oriented Language or COBOL, now the most widely used computer business language in the world. COBOL enabled firms large and small to compile computerized payroll, billing, and other records.

Grace Hopper being interviewed by Channel 3 Norfolk VA. Taken during Navy Micro 1986.Grace Hopper being interviewed by Channel 3 Norfolk VA. Taken during Navy Micro 1986. 

In addition to many other firsts, Grace Hopper was the first woman to graduate from Yale University with a Ph.D. in Mathematics, and in 1985, was the first woman ever to reach the rank of admiral in the US Navy. During World War II, while employed as a mathematics professor at Vasser College, Grace Hopper joined the United States Naval Reserve. Her first assignment was with the Bureau of Ordnance Computation Project at Harvard University, where she worked on some of the Navy's first computers (read more about this in our feature article). 

After the war, the Naval Reserve officer returned to civilian life, eventually joining the Sperry Rand Corporation, one of the computer industry's pioneering firms. During this period, she was instrumental in the creation of the FLOW-MATIC language for the UNIVAC I and UNIVAC II computers. 

Grace Hopper's work was never patented; her contributions were made before computer software technology was even considered a "patentable" field. In 1986, four years before her death, President Ronald Reagan awarded Hopper the prestigious National Medal of Technology at a ceremony in the White House. 

 "It's easier to ask forgiveness than it is to get permission." - Grace Hopper

All artwork Mary Bellis/army photos
Picture Grace Murray Hopper "US Navy photo courtesy of Chips magazine"

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