We have covered Grace Hopper a few times on our blog, and considering her greatness, we will continue to do so. NPR’s Laura Sydell recently published a great piece on women in computing that discusses Ada Lovelace, Jean Jennings Bartik and Grace Hopper and their incredible contributions to modern technology.
…She found a way to program computers using words rather than numbers — most notably a program language called COBOL.
“You would be using a programming language that would allow you almost to just give it instructions, almost in regular English, and it would compile it for whatever hardware it happened to be,” explains Isaacson. “So that made programming more important than the hardware, ’cause you could use it on any piece of hardware.”
Hopper retired from the Navy Reserve as a rear admiral. An act of Congress allowed her to stay past mandatory retirement age. She did become something of a public figure and even appeared on the David Letterman show in 1986. Letterman asks her, “You’re known as the Queen of Software. Is that right?”
“More or less,” says the 79-year-old Hopper.
But it was also just about this time that the number of women majoring in computer science began to drop, from close to 40 percent to around 17 percent now. There are a lot of theories about why this is so. It was around this time that Steve Jobs and Bill Gates were appearing in the media; personal computers were taking off.
October 14th is Ada Lovelace Day! Today the world celebrates all of the accomplishments of women in science, art, design, technology, engineering, and math. Each year, Adafruit highlights a number of women who are pioneering their fields and inspiring women of all ages to make their voices heard. Today we will be sharing the stories of women that we think are modern day “Adas”. We will also be referencing women from history that have made impacts in science and math. Please promote and share #ALD14 with your friends and family so we can promote and share with all of the world wide web!
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