My name is Grace Murray Hopper. When I was young, in the early 1900s my family would all go to my grandfathers camp. There were seven rooms and each one had a clock. I wanted to know what was inside so I took one apart. I couldnt get it back together so I took apart another one thinking I could see how it worked and put it back together. I took apart all seven clocks and still couldnt get one back together. I was in trouble but learned a lot.
When I was sixteen I graduated from Schoonmakers. I would have gone to college but I failed my Latin examination, and my parents decided I was too young.
Instead of college I went to a preparatory school, called Hartridge School, in Plainfield, New Jersey. I was required to take English, Latin, another foreign language, history, or science, as well as singing, calisthenics, gymnastics, and dancing. I also played basketball and hockey, performed in two plays and sang in the glee club. The founder of Hartridge School had grown fond of me and told me he thought I should go to Vassar College.
At Vassar I took classes in science, business, and economics. I was the smartest in my class and was asked to tutor other students. I had the highest grades in my class.
After graduation I decided to go into the US Navy. I could get in only with special permission because I was too old and underweight. After getting permission they moved me to work on the Mark 1, a computer. The Mark 1 was eight feet high, eight feet deep, and had a fifty-one foot rotary shaft. It was run by a four horsepower motor and weighed five tons. It had about 800,000 parts and five miles of wire. It was electromechanical. I called it the Prettiest Gadget. The Mark 1 was used to aim guns during the World War II.
When the Mark 1 was outdated we made a Mark 2. I was working on it one day and it stopped running. We looked inside and a moth had flown inside. We took the moth out and the computer began to work. We said we had debugged the computer. I inspired the term computer bug.
I was the first person to win the Computer Science Man of the Year Award in 1969, and even though Im not a man, Im proud of it. In 1973 I won the Legion of Merit award.
I am a very independent woman. I dislike the saying But weve always done it this way. I know things can be changed, and for a fact I even made a clock that ran backwards, just to be different. I finally got a clock to work!
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