Educator Resources for Grace Hopper

Kids everywhere learn about coding in classrooms today—but just a select few experts could understand it in Grace Hopper's day! Back then, computer programs were basically rows of holes punched in cards, strings of ones and zeroes, or blocks of numbers and letters that only machines could understand. An experienced math professor, Hopper enlisted in the Navy during World War II and was assigned to work on one of the very first computers: the Harvard Mark I. Like other early computers, it was designed for solving equations—in this case, to calculate where rockets would land. But Hopper knew computers could do so much more. They just had to be taught to be more human, so that all kinds of people, not just computer experts, could use them. While working on a new computer called the UNIVAC I, Hopper designed a program that could translate human language into computer code. Her compiler revolutionized programming and made computers useful in lots of other fields! She went on to help create COBOL, a widely-used programming language that paved the way for the high-level languages we use today. Along the way, Hopper rose to the rank of Rear Admiral and gained fame as an ambassador from the world of programming. Click "play" to learn more about this trailblazing woman!