It’s the 100 year anniversary of the birth of COBOLs mom , Grace Hopper.

Ah, you don’t know COBOL? Guess you aren’t a nerd.

How about the term “Computer bug”. Ah, you know about them…

Well, that term was invented by Rear Admiral Grace Murray Hopper,(1906-1992) a pioneer in the world of computers.

Hopper got her Ph.D. in 1934, and joined the Navy Reserve in 1943, and was put to work on the Mark 1 calculator, an early version of the digital computer. Later she worked on Univac, and during that time decided that the machine language was too complicated and so she invented the English friendly language of COBOL in 1959.

COBOL stands for “The COmmon Business Oriented Language”, and for years was the main computer language for large mainframe computers, including those of the US Government. The US government back then decided that all it’s computer programs should be compatible with COBOL, leading to it’s widespread use, although now with small computers and the Internet it’s use is obsolete.

One ironic side effect of using this easier language was that the dates were written as binary…causing all sorts of problems when the millennium came around many many years later.

Well, what about Hopper and her bug? Well, it seems that back in 1945 one of the The Mark II Aiken Relay Calculators didn’t work, so the then Lt. Hopper took it apart, and found a moth stuck between some wires. She wrote a memo saying a bug in the computer had been found, and from her memo came the word “debugging”.(See photo LINK
the first computer bug
The ship USS HOPPER was named in her honor. It’s motto? Dare and Do.

Not a bad epitaph for a women who lectured for years to graduates in full uniform.

Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the rural Philippines with her husband, six dogs, three cats, and a large extended family. Her blog is Finest Kind Clinic and Fishmarket.

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