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NEWS | March 13, 2012

Women's History Month: Beyond the bridge: Story of 'Amazing Grace' Hopper

By Airman 1st Class Tom Brading Joint Base Charleston Public Affairs

She was a Navy rear admiral that pioneered her way through the unchartered cyber seas of technology while in the midst of a "man's" digital world.

Her name is Grace Hopper.

Her legacy is remembered through the technological revolutions she paved and, among many other accolades, the Joint Base Charleston - Weapons Station Bridge that was paved in her honor.

She was known as 'Amazing Grace' by her peers. Hopper was born in New York City in December 1906 and graduated Yale University in 1930 with a degree in mathematics.

In 1943, Hopper was commissioned in the U.S. Navy Reserve as an officer. She needed a waiver because she was 15 pounds under the minimum weight requirement.

After graduating first in her class at Midshipmen's School at Smith College in 1944, Hopper was assigned to the Bureau of Ships Computation Project at Harvard University.

While conducting mathematical research at Harvard, Hopper also served as the Navy's operational head of the first computer used during World War II, the Harvard Mark I. According to the U.S. Navy's website, during this time she was in the forefront of computer and programming language progression.

In 1951, Hopper invented the compiler which creates the first high end computer software writing program. In 1959, Hopper invented the computer software language COBOL, or Common Business Oriented Language and in 1969, Hopper was awarded the first-ever Computer Science Man-of-the-Year Award from the Data Processing Management Association.

COBOL is an easy-to-use business software language program, which revolutionized the computer world. Much of the world's computer code is written in COBOL.

The information age was paved by the brilliant work of technological minds like Hopper. The bridge that connects the North and South sides of the Weapons Station is a reminder of the international connection brought through her work.