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Grace Hopper, Computer Pioneer

Wikimedia Commons / U.S. Navy / James S. Davis

Grace Hopper, Computer Pioneer

Grace Hopper was a pioneering computer scientist and a rear admiral in the U.S. Navy. She was known as "Amazing Grace" for her many accomplishments: she graduated first in her class at Smith College, she helped develop the UNIVAC I computer, she developed important and groundbreaking software, she received multiple awards, she was the namesake for the Navy destroyer USS Hopper, and much more.

As I learned about this great woman who died twenty years ago on New Year's Day, I discovered one tidbit that especially made me smile. Among Hopper's list of great accomplishments is this fact: she was responsible for the computer term "debugging." No metaphor, the term sprang from an incident with an actual bug. When a moth became stuck in a relay and impeded the computer's performance, Hopper quipped that they were "debugging" the system. If only it were always as easy as removing a moth when our computers plague us with problems.

Hopper's appearance on "Late Night With David Letterman" shows that the "debugging" naming was no fluke: the lady had a sense of humor.