Profiles in Technology

5 ways to celebrate Grace Hopper, first lady of software

December 9, 2014

  • Jessica Smith

“Be venturers, not adventurers. There’s a very great different between an adventurer and a venturer. An adventurer is the man who comes with the sword and takes everything with armed men behind him. He leaves behind him devastation….A venturer is the man who comes with his family and puts his own back into it. He cuts down trees, builds….forms a government, teaches children to read and write.” – Grace Hopper

Grace Murray Hopper retired from the military (after retiring and being called back to service a number of times) at age 79, then the oldest living officer in the Navy. That alone is evidence of her vigor, intelligence, acuity, but is but one fact among a sea of amazing facts about one of the mothers of modern computer science and often called the “first lady of software.”

Keenly intelligent, Hopper held degrees from Vassar and two from Yale. We owe much gratitude to her teaching, example, and service, among which include helping program the Harvard Mark I, inventing the first compiler for a programming language, and co-inventing the first universal computer language COBOL.

Check out this great article at the Anita Borg Institute which recommends 5 ways to celebrate Grace Hopper today—or any day!

The above quote comes from a commencement address in 1985, and finishes, “I hope you’ll be a venturer…that you will will share your town, will build your school, and when the time comes you’ll be ready to defend and stand up for those things which you believe in.”

Venture on!