JEI is proud to celebrate Women’s History Month and the women trailblazers who changed the world with their intellect. Grace Hopper is emblematic of one of these women. In fact, you can thank “Amazing Grace” for your ability to read this on your computer right now.
When Grace Hopper joined the Navy during World War II, computers were in effect giant calculators. Using a computer meant familiarizing oneself with punch cards or manipulating wires to do complex calculations. Hopper had a vision that computers could be used by anyone without much technical skill. For this, Hopper thought there needed to be an interface between the user and the computer that allowed the user to write commands in plain English.
When Hopper first proposed her language-based computer coding system, then called a compiler, she was told computers don’t understand English. Her idea wasn’t accepted for three years, but she persisted. She wrote a paper on the topic in 1952. While working for the Remington Rand company she completed her first compiler called the A compiler whose first version was called A-0.
Hopper would go on to help develop the COBOL programming language in 1959 based on her earlier FLOW-MATIC programming language. These were among the first programming languages and would form the basis for modern computing. Despite being 60 years old, COBOL is still used in business code, providing the backbone of 95% of ATM transactions and 43% of banking systems.
Hopper’s talent relied on her skills not only in mathematical reasoning but also in deeply understanding how language functions. At JEI, we’re training the next generation to navigate a world built on code. Our enrichment programs provide students with the math and English skills necessary to become the next Grace Hopper. JEI Problem Solving Math provides students with a hands-on approach to solving complex problems requiring math reasoning skills. Our Brain Safari program further develops a student’s critical reasoning and creative thinking skills – skills every developer needs to remain competitive.