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Ken North

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Emphasizing Computer Science and honoring pioneer Grace Hopper

October 17, 2009

The U.S. Congress passed a resolution this week (H. RES. 558) that designates the week of December 7 as "National Computer Science Education Week". The December 7 date is the birthday of Rear Admiral Dr. Grace Murray Hopper, a pioneer in the field of computing and a force behind the development of the COBOL language.

Grace Murray Hopper 

The text of the resolution includes:

"Whereas Grace Murray Hopper, one of the first females in the field of computer science, engineered new programming languages and pioneered standards for computer systems which laid the foundation for many advancements in computer science; and

Whereas the week of December 7, in honor of Grace Hopper's birthday, is designated as "National Computer Science Education Week":

In 1980, I was fortunate to be one of the persons attending the Fall DECUS Symposium who heard then Captain Grace Hopper deliver a memorable keynote address. Over the years I've heard plenty of conference speakers but Grace Hopper was one of the most enjoyable.

She told about a summer day in 1945 that was hot so the windows were open in the Harvard lab where she was working on the Mark I. The machine had unexpectedly gone down due to a moth found in a relay. Just at that moment, the phone rang and Secretary of War Henry Stimson wanted to know how things were going. Someone on the project, probably Howard Aiken, said "Tell him we're debugging the machine".

 

 

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