Grace Hopper Lecture

By: MIT Lincoln Laboratory

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Uploaded on 12/06/2016

MIT Lincoln Laboratory proudly presents Commodore Grace Hopper’s landmark lecture* on the future of computing. Hopper (1906–1992) is known for finding the first computer bug, inventing compiler design, and creating high-level languages. She inspired leadership and education, famously using the 11.8” wire prop to represent how far electricity can travel in one nanosecond. In this amazing video posted by the Lincoln Laboratory Women’s Network, Commodore Hopper practically invents computer science at the chalkboard. The points she made decades ago are still relevant today.

* given onsite at MIT Lincoln Laboratory on 25 April 1985

Comments (1):

By inflatableDodo    2019-08-12

>Management was concerned that Hopper’s plans were too ambitious, and that the Automatic Programming Department was wasting time and energy exploring such marginal areas as multilingual programming.

This is not at all the impression given by Grace. Also, I'll note this explanation makes no logical sense given that it was the first demo to management of something that management had already told Grace she wouldn't be able to do at all. If they were concerned at the waste of time and energy, they would presumably have stopped her when they believed that what she was working on was never going to work, rather than requesting the removal of a feature that had been implemented in the first demo.

Here is Grace's take on it, from her MIT lecture -

'We'd like to run this German program for you...' Have you figured out what happened to us? That thing hit the fan. It was absolutely obvious, that a respectable American computer, built in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, could not understand French or German. And I had to spend the next four months saying no, no, no, no, no, no! We wouldn't think of programming it in anything but English.

She starts the topic at around 59 minutes -

edit - I just checked the dates. Never mind logical sense, the explanation fails chronological sense. Her demo was in 1952 and she became the very first director of Eckert–Mauchly's newly formed Department of Automatic Programming, sometime in 1954. They definitely were not worried about time and energy being wasted in a department that wouldn't even exist for another two years.

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