I am delighted to see that The White House has announced a posthumous honour for Rear Admiral Grace Hopper as part of outgoing President Obama’s list of individuals who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States.
The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the USA’s highest civilian honour. It also covers contributions to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavours. Fairly wide ranging then. The awards will be presented at the White House on November 22nd.
The White House notes:
Grace Hopper (posthumous)
Rear Admiral Grace Hopper, known as “Amazing Grace” and “the first lady of software,” was at the forefront of computers and programming development from the 1940s through the 1980s. Hopper’s work helped make coding languages more practical and accessible, and she created the first compiler, which translates source code from one language into another. She taught mathematics as an associate professor at Vassar College before joining the United States Naval Reserve as a lieutenant (junior grade) during World War II, where she became one of the first programmers of the Harvard Mark I computer and began her lifelong leadership role in the field of computer science.
If it wasn’t for Grace Hopper, I would not have my current career, and my company Beagle Proactive would not exist. Operations like TheGymChef would not be selling online, and nurseries like Little Swanswell Nursery would not be able to attract new bookings online. Law firms like Griffin Law would not be able to offer the range of services they do. The bar would have been too high for these businesses – and for me – and countless others. Computers would have still been in the preserve of super-geeks if not for Grace Hopper. What she gave humanity is nothing short of epoch-defining.