Google doodle honors early computer scientist Grace Hopper


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It is one of these days when a pleasant digital surprise popped up in my browser. It is another Google doodle honoring a woman in computer science: this time it is Grace Hopper. Mousing over a cartoon strip-like image of Grace operating a gigantic early computer, I learn it would have been her 107th birthday today. Frankly, I had never heard of her or her name before bumping into the doodle. It appears that Google recently has been honoring more women in computer science and technology via their doodles, in addition to women artists and writers. It is all the better when it draws attention to women whose legacy and work are perhaps not as well known (yet) to a wider public.

In a nutshell, Grace Hopper was an early computer pioneer, as Time details, and coined the phrase “bug in the system”:

“In August 1945, while she and some associates were working at Harvard on an experimental machine called the Mark I, a circuit malfunctioned. A researcher using tweezers located and removed the problem: a 2-in. long moth. Hopper taped the offending insect into her logbook. Says she: “From then on, when anything went wrong with a computer, we said it had bugs in it.”

She’s also reported to have had an “incredible work ethic”. And as the short clip below shows, she was a good at teaching technical concepts that are hard to envision, for instance what a nanosecond is:

We hope with our free Wikid GRRLS Teaching Package we can help to introduce the fun of computing and creating projects online to many girls to become the Grace Hoppers of the 21st century. To receive our free teaching material, just e-mail either Stine at keckert@umd.edu or Joanna at jpmg@umd.edu.

SE

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