Exhibits At the Museum

This Day in History

Today: April 20, 2014
Grace Hopper speaking at The Computer Museum, April 14

August 1, 1967

US Navy recalls Hopper to head COBOL effort

The US Navy recalls Captain Grace Murray Hopper to active duty to help develop the programming language COBOL. With a team drawn from several computer manufacturers and the Pentagon, Hopper -- who had worked on the Mark I and II computers at Harvard in the 1940s -- created the specifications for COBOL (COmmon Business Oriented Language) with business uses in mind. These early COBOL efforts aimed at creating easily-readable computer programs with as much machine independence as possible. Designers hoped a COBOL program would run on any computer for which a compiler existed with only minimal modifications.

Hopper made many major contributions to computer science throughout her very long career, including what is likely the first compiler ever written, "A-0." She appears to have also been the first to coin the word "bug" in the context of computer science, taping into her logbook a moth which had fallen into a relay of the Harvard Mark II computer. She died on January 1, 1992.

The U.S. Navy commissioned their most advanced ship, the U.S.S. Hopper (DDG 70), on September 6, 1997 named in honor of Grace Hopper.