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CHIPS Articles: Grace Hopper..."mathematician, computer specialist, social scientist, corporate politician ..."

Grace Hopper..."mathematician, computer specialist, social scientist, corporate politician ..."
By CHIPS Magazine - October-December 2002
[Hopper]...was a "mathematician, computer specialist, social scientist, corporate politician, marketing whiz, systems designer and programmer, and always a visionary." - Howard Bromberg, computer pioneer, University of California San Diego, Supercomputer Center, www.sdsc.edu

From the earliest days of computer development, Hopper envisioned writing programs that would enable not only scientists, but ordinary people as well to use computers. Her colleagues scoffed at the idea, in their opinion only scientists would be able to use something as complicated as a computer. Even the brilliant Howard Aiken, inventor of the Mark I, did not possess a vision for the future development of computer technology.

In 1947 Aiken said, "Only six electronic digital computers would be required to satisfy the computing needs of the entire United States." Undeterred, Hopper was determined to make computers accessible for everyone. - Mary Bellis, "Inventors of the Modern Computer, The Harvard Mark I, Howard Aiken & Grace Hopper.

Hopper's original staff at the Eckert-Mauchly Computer Corporation consisted of four men and four women. Hopper liked hiring women. She said, "Women turn out to be very good — they finish up things, and men don't finish very often." - Dabuta Bois, 1998, Distinguished Women of the Past and Present, Women in Technology, Harvard Graduate School of Education

"No one better defines reform than does Grace Hopper. Her combined experience in the Navy and in private industry gave her a special perspective and valuable insight. She served as an early role model for the concept of partnering and teaming with industry. She was impatient with bureaucracy and quick to eliminate redundant practices, and those which added no value to the product. Grace Hopper believed in empowering people to manage risk rather than avoid it. Continuous improvement was her watchword. She inspired innovation, and threatened to haunt anyone in the Navy who rejected a new idea or improvement just because it had never been done before."

- The Honorable John H. Dalton, Secretary of the Navy
Department of the Navy Acquisition Hall of Fame, Acquisition Pioneer Awards 1998

Grace Hopper working for Eckert-Mauchly Computer Corporation.  Photo courtesy of Stanford University.
Grace Hopper working for Eckert-Mauchly Computer Corporation. Photo courtesy of Stanford University.
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