Grace Hopper

The Moment

1991, Grace Hopper is awarded the National Medal of Technology—becoming the first female individual recipient of the honor.

The Unseen Story

Hopper was an outlier her whole life. Born in New York in 1906, she studied math and physics at Vassar, got her masters in mathematics from Yale in 1930 and went on to become one of only a few women to get her PhD in mathematics –also from Yale — in 1934. After graduating she got a job as an associate professor at Vassar, where she worked until compelled to join the U.S. Naval Reserve in 1943, during World War II. Because of her mathematics background, Hopper was assigned to the Bureau of Ordnance Computation Project at Harvard University, where she became not just one of the first women, but one of the first people to learn modern computer programming.

She continued on as a research fellow at Harvard, during which time she was credited with popularizing the term “computer bug,” a phrase that has its origins in an actual moth caught in the Mark II computer at Harvard. Hopper then transitioned into the private sector in 1949. Working with Remington Rand in 1952, she led a team of engineers and programmers that created the first compiler for computer languages, a precursor to Common Business Oriented Language, or COBOL, a widely adapted language that would eventually be used around the world.

Hopper was recalled to the Navy at the age of 60 to work on standardizing communication between different computer languages. By the time she finally retired, at age 79, she was a rear admiral and the oldest serving officer in the military.

Our Heroes

Roald Amundsen

Roald Amundsen

1911 – Antarctica

Roald Amundsen successfully reaches the geographic South Pole.
Cameron

Cameron

1984 – The Terminator

The movie grosses $38 million and launches the career of its 29 year-old director.
Michael Collins

Michael Collins

1969 – Our Moon

Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin are the first humans to set foot on the moon.
Jacques Cousteau

Jacques Cousteau

1943 – The French Riviera

Jacques Cousteau wades into the Mediterranean, wearing flippers and the world’s first scuba device.
Rosalind Franklin

Rosalind Franklin

1953 – London

Rosalind Franklin invents the X-ray techniques that lead to the discover of the double helix model of DNA.

Grace Hopper

Grace Hopper

1944 – Harvard

Computer pioneer Grace Hopper invents the first compiler for a computer programming language.

Hedy Lamarr

Hedy Lamarr

1942 – Hollywood

Actress and inventor Hedy Lamarr develops the frequency hopping communications technology behind GPS, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth

Matt Parker

Matt Parker

2012 – London Olympics

Matt Parker utilizes strategic training methods and disciplines which results in 8 gold medals.
Malcolm McLean

Malcolm McLean

1956 – Houston

Malcolm McLean’s Ideal X tanker makes its maiden voyage.
Nikola Tesla

Nikola Tesla

1893 – World Fair, Chicago

Tesla wows the crowd with his Tesla Coil, including wireless lighting and his induction motor.
Vivien Thomas

Vivien Thomas

1944 – Baltimore

Vivien Thomas develops the first surgical procedure used to treat blue baby syndrome.

Wright Brothers

Wright Brothers

1903 – North Carolina

The iconic flight of the Wright Brothers in 1903 as the first manned aircraft at Kitty Hawk.