Grace Hopper and the Invention of the Information Age

Grace Hopper and the Invention of the Information Age

Book - 2009
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MIT Press
The career of computer visionary Grace Murray Hopper, whose innovative work in programming laid the foundations for the user-friendliness of today's personal computers that sparked the information age.

A Hollywood biopic about the life of computer pioneer Grace Murray Hopper (1906--1992) would go like this: a young professor abandons the ivy-covered walls of academia to serve her country in the Navy after Pearl Harbor and finds herself on the front lines of the computer revolution. She works hard to succeed in the all-male computer industry, is almost brought down by personal problems but survives them, and ends her career as a celebrated elder stateswoman of computing, a heroine to thousands, hailed as the inventor of computer programming. Throughout Hopper's later years, the popular media told this simplified version of her life story. In Grace Hopper and the Inventionof theInformation Age, Kurt Beyer reveals a more authentic Hopper, a vibrant and complex woman whose career paralleled the meteoric trajectory of the postwar computer industry.

Both rebellious and collaborative, Hopper was influential in male-dominated military and business organizations at a time when women were encouraged to devote themselves to housework and childbearing. Hopper's greatest technical achievement was to create the tools that would allow humans to communicate with computers in terms other than ones and zeroes. This advance influenced all future programming and software design and laid the foundation for the development of user-friendly personal computers.

Publisher: Cambridge, Mass. : MIT Press, c2009
ISBN: 9780262013109
Branch Call Number: 004.092 BEY
Characteristics: xii, 389 p. :,ill., ports. ;,21 cm.


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Nov 01, 2018

If you're not at some level knowledgeable about computer software, and better yet computer hardware and software, then you may not find this book interesting. Or perhaps even understandable. If on the other hand you have some understanding of computer hardware and software you will not only find this book informative, you'll also come away impressed with Grace Hopper's role in the evolution of computing.
World War II presented a variety of complex mathematical problems the solutions to which would provide the military with a competitive edge. So early computer hardware was designed to function as "super calculators" that could more quickly solve those problems than could a team of humans, typically women, working with mechanical desktop calculators.
That hardware's clumsy methods for getting a problem into the machine required a sophisticated knowledge of math and the computing machinery. Enter Grace Hopper who possessed not only the requisite mathematical knowledge, but also the interpersonal, organizational, and communications skills that enabled her to make major contributions to computing, especially computer software, during and after World War II.
The magnitude of those contributions are too many to enumerate in this comment. Suffice it to say that if one has a general interest in the subject matter, this informative book tells a good story...

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