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Section 1.4 Special Topic: Grace Hopper and the First Computer Bug

Rear Admiral Grace Murray Hopper (1906โ€“1992) was a pioneer computer programmer and one of the original developers of the COBOL programming language, which stands for COmmon Business-Oriented Language. Among her many achievements and distinctions, Admiral Hopper also had a role in coining the term computer bug.

In August 1945, she and a group of other programmers were working on the Mark I, an electro-mechanical computer developed at Harvard that was one of the ancestors of today's electronic computers. After several hours of trying to figure out why the machine was malfunctioning, someone located and removed a two-inch moth from one of the computer's circuits. From then on whenever anything went wrong with a computer, Admiral Hopper and others would say โ€œit had bugs in it.โ€ The first bug itself is still taped to Admiral Hopper's 1945 log book, which is now in the collection of the Naval Surface Weapons Center.

In 1991, Admiral Hopper was awarded the National Medal of Technology by President George Bush. To commemorate and honor Admiral Hopper's many contributions, the U.S.ย Navy recently named a warship after her.

For more information on Admiral Hopper, see the Navy's Grace Hopper website.

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