Rear Admiral Grace Murray Hopper, USN
9 December 1906 - 1 January 1992
"Remembering Grace Murray Hopper"
"Looking Back: Grace Murray Hopper's Younger Years"
"David and Goliath" - by Grace Hopper
Commodore Grace M. Hopper, USNR, Special Assistant to the Commander,
9 December 1906 - Born in New York, New York.
30 May 1944 - Midshipman, US Naval Reserve
27 June 1944 - Lieutenant (junior grade)
1 January 1946 - Lieutenant
7 August 1946 - Released from active duty.
1 April 1952 - Lieutenant Commander
1 July 1957 - Commander
1 January 1967 - Transferred to the Naval Reserve Retired List with pay.
1 August 1967 - Reported for active duty.
2 August 1973 - Captain
8 November 1983 - Commodore [Rear Admiral (lower half)]
September1986 - Second retirement (involuntary)
1 January 1992 - Death in Alexandria, Virginia; buried in Arlington Cemetery.
Harvard University: June 1944 - October 1945.
Office of Research and Inventions, Branch Office, Boston, MA: October 1945 - August 1946.
Office of the Special Assistant to the Secretary of the Navy, Washington, DC (Director, Navy Programming Language Standards Group): August 1967 - September 1968.
Office of Information Systems Planning and Development, Washington, DC (Director, Navy Programming Languages Group): September 1968 - October 1970.
Office of the Chief of Naval Operations (Head, Programming Languages Section): October 1970 - September 1976.
Naval Data Automation Command, Washington, DC (Head, Training and Technology Directorate/Special Advisor to the Commander): October 1976 - 1986.
Distinguished Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, American Campaign Medal, World War II Victory Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Armed Forces Reserve Medal, and Naval Reserve Medal.
BA (Mathematics), Vassar College, 1928
MA (Mathematics and Physics), Yale University, 1930
PhD (Mathematics), Yale University, 1934
Sister: Mary Murray Westcote
Brother: Dr. Roger Franklin Murray, II
[Adapted from: "Transcript of Naval Service for Commodore Grace Murray Hopper, US Naval Reserve," dated 1 July 1985, Grace Hopper file, Biographies, 20th Century, Navy Department Library.]
(This is not a complete list. It merely highlights Rear Admiral Hopper's many accomplishments.)
1928 - Phi Beta Kappa [honor society for undergraduate liberal arts and sciences majors]
1934 - Sigma Xi [scientific research society]
1946 - Naval Ordnance Development Award
1962 - Fellow, IEEE [Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers]
1963 - Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science
1964 - SWE (Society of Women Engineers) Achievement Award, Society of Women Engineers
1968 - IEEE Philadelphia Section Achievement Award
1968 - Connelly Memorial Award, Miami Valley Computer Association
1969 - Computer Sciences "Man of the Year", Data Processing Management Association
1970 - Upsilon Pi Epsilon [international honor society for the computing sciences], Honorary Member, Texas A&M [University], Alpha Chapter
1970 - Science Achievement Award, American Mothers Committee
1970 - Harry Goode Memorial Award, American Federation of Information Processing Societies
1972 - Honorary Doctor of Engineering, Newark College of Engineering
1972 - Wilbur Lucius Cross Medal, Yale University
1973 - Epsilon Delta Pi [honor society for computer information systems], Honorary Member, SUNY [State University of New York] Potsdam Chapter
1973 - Honorary Doctor of Science, C.W. Post College, Long Island University
1973 - Elected to membership in the National Academy of Engineering.
1973 - Legion of Merit
1973 - Distinguished Fellow of the British Computer Society
1974 - Honorary Doctor of Laws, University of Pennsylvania
1976 - Distinguished Member Award, Washington D.C. Chapter, ACM [Association for Computing Machinery]
1976 - Honorary Doctor of Science, Pratt Institute
1976 - W. Wallace McDowell Award, IEEE Computer Society
1980 - three honorary doctorates
1980 - Meritorious Service Medal
1981 - three honorary doctorates
1982 - two honorary doctorates
1983 - five honorary doctorates
1983 - Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers Computer Pioneer Medal
1983 - Golden Plate Award, American Academy of Achievement, California
1983 - American Association of University Women Achievement Award
1983 - Federally Employed Women Achievement Award
1983 - Association for Computing Machinery Distinguished Service Award
1984 - eight honorary doctorates
1984 - Living Legacy Award, Women's International Center, California
1984 - Woman of the Year Award, Young Women's Christian Association of the National Capitol Area
1985 - seven honorary doctorates
1985 - The Grace Murray Hopper Service Center built at NARDAC [Navy Regional Data Automation Center] San Diego.
1986 - four honorary doctorates
1986 - Defense Distinguished Service Medal
1986 - Meritorious Citation, Navy Relief Society
1987 - one honorary doctorate
1988 - The Charles Holmes Pette Medal, University of New Hampshire
1988 - The Emanuel R. Piore Award, Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers
1990 - National Medal of Technology
[Source: Dickason, Elizabeth. " Looking Back: Grace Murray Hopper's Younger Years." Chips 12, no.2 (April 1992): 6.]
1931-1943, Instructor to Associate Professor, Department of Mathematics, Vassar College
1943, Assistant Professor of Mathematics, Barnard College
1944-46, Mathematical Officer, US Navy, Bureau of Ordnance
1946-49, Research Fellow in Engineering Sciences and Applied Physics, Computation Laboratory, Harvard University
1949-52, Senior Mathematician, Eckert-Mauchly Computer Corporation
1952-64, Systems Engineer, Director of Automatic Programming Development, UNIVAC [Universal Automatic Computer] Division of the Sperry Corporation
1959, Visiting Lecturer to Adjunct Professor, Moore School of Electrical Engineering, University of Pennsylvania
1964-71, Staff Scientist, Systems Programming, UNIVAC [Universal Automatic Computer] Division of Sperry Corporation, (on military leave 1967-71) retired 1971
1967-77, Active duty, US Navy, serving in the Information Systems Division in OP-911F (Office of the Chief of Naval Operations)
1971-78, Professional Lecturer in Management Sciences, George Washington University
1977-86, Active duty, US Navy, serving as NAVDAC-OO [Naval Data Automation Command Research - Operations Officer]
1986-90, Senior Consultant, Digital Equipment Corporation
[Source: Dickason, Elizabeth. " Looking Back: Grace Murray Hopper's Younger Years." Chips, 12 no. 2 (April 1992): 5.]
By Elizabeth Dickason
Eighty-five-year-old Rear Admiral Grace Murray Hopper who dedicated her life to the Navy passed away on 1 January 1992. As a pioneer Computer Programmer and co-inventor of COBOL [Common Business Oriented Language], she was known as the Grand Lady of Software, Amazing Grace and Grandma COBOL. She'll be remembered for her now famous sayings, one of which is "It's easier to ask forgiveness than it is to get permission." It's only fitting that Grace Brewster Murray was born between two such memorable events as the Wright Brothers' first successful power-driven flight in 1903 and Henry Ford's introduction of the Model T in 1908. Taught by her father at an early age to go after what she wanted, Grace's life consisted of one success after another, including the significant contributions she made to the computer age and the Navy.
Young Grace's diligence and hard work paid off when in 1928 at the age of 22 she was graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Vassar College. She then attended Yale University, where she received an MA degree in Mathematics and Physics in 1930 and a PhD in Mathematics in 1934. Hopper began teaching mathematics at Vassar in 1931 where her first year's salary was $800. She stayed there until she joined the United States Naval Reserve in December 1943.
Upon graduation, she was commissioned a LTJG [Lieutenant (junior grade)] and ordered to the Bureau of Ordnance Computation Project at Harvard University. There she became the first programmer on the Navy's Mark I computer, the mechanical miracle of its day. Hopper's love of gadgets caused her to immediately fall for the biggest gadget she'd ever seen, the fifty-one foot long, 8 foot high, 8 foot wide, glass-encased mound of bulky relays, switches and vacuum tubes called the Mark I. This miracle of modern science could store 72 words and perform three additions every second.
Hopper's love affair with the Mark I ended in a few short years when the UNIVAC I [Universal Automatic Computer], operating a thousand times faster, won her affections.
In 1946 Hopper was released from active duty and joined the Harvard Faculty at the Computation Laboratory where her work continued on the Mark II and Mark III computers for the Navy. In 1949 she joined the Eckert-Mauchly Computer Corporation in Philadelphia, later called Sperry Rand, where she designed the first commercial large-scale electronic computer called the UNIVAC I.
She changed the lives of everyone in the computer industry by developing the Bomarc system, later called COBOL (common-business-oriented language). COBOL made it possible for computers to respond to words rather than numbers. Hopper often jokingly explained, "It really came about because I couldn't balance my checkbook." She's also credited with coining the term bug when she traced an error in the Mark II to a moth trapped in a relay. The bug was carefully removed and taped to a daily log book. Since then, whenever a computer has a problem, it's referred to as a bug.
The First "Computer Bug"
Hopper retired from the Naval Reserve with the rank of Commander at the end of 1966. She was recalled to active duty in August of 1967 for what was supposed to be a six-month assignment at the request of Norman Ream, then Special Assistant to the Secretary of the Navy for Automatic Data Processing. After the six months were up, her orders were changed to say her services would be needed indefinitely. She was promoted to Captain in 1973 by Admiral Elmo Zumwalt, Jr., Chief of Naval Operations. And in 1977, she was appointed special advisor to Commander, Naval Data Automation Command (NAVDAC), where she stayed until she retired.
In 1983, a bill was introduced by Rep. Philip Crane (D-Ill.) who said, "It is time the Navy recognized the outstanding contributions made by this officer recalled from retirement over a decade and a half ago and promote her to the rank of Commodore." Rep. Crane became interested in Hopper after seeing her March 1983 60 Minutes interview. He'd never met Hopper, but after speaking with several people, was convinced she was due the added status of being a flag officer. The bill was approved by the House, and at the age of 76, she was promoted to Commodore by special Presidential appointment. Her rank was elevated to rear admiral in November 1985, making her one of few women admirals in the history of the United States Navy.
On 27 September 1985, the Navy Regional Data Automation Center (now the Naval Computer and Telecommunications Station), San Diego, broke ground on a 135,577 square foot data processing facility, The Grace Murray Hopper Service Center. The building contains a data processing center as well as training facilities, teleconferencing capabilities, telecommunications and expanded customer service areas. A small room-sized museum contains numerous artifacts, awards and citations that Hopper received during her lengthy career. The guest visitor's book contains the names of some prominent people paying homage to the computer pioneer. There is also a Grace Murray Hopper Center for Computer Learning at Brewster Academy in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire, where she spent her childhood summers.
In 1986, eighty-year-old Grace Hopper retired involuntarily from the Navy. The ceremony was held in Boston on USS Constitution, fulfilling Hopper's final request before ending her Naval career. Three hundred of her friends and admirers and thirty family members were there to watch as the end came to her 43-year Naval career. As then Secretary of the Navy John Lehman said in his speech, "I'm reminded of that famous story by P.T. Barnum. About the turn of the century, his principle attraction, the human cannonball, came to P.T. Barnum and said, `Mr. Barnum, I just can't take it any longer. Two performances a day and four on weekends are just too much. I'm quitting.' Barnum said, `You can't possibly quit. Where will I find someone else of your caliber?' They realized Hopper was irreplaceable.
In her retirement speech, instead of dwelling on the past, she talked about moving toward the future, stressing the importance of leadership. "Our young people are the future. We must provide for them. We must give them the positive leadership they're looking for...You manage things; you lead people." It was at her retirement in 1986 that she was presented the highest award given by the Department of Defense - the Defense Distinguished Service Medal - one of innumerable awards she received from both the Navy and industry.
Other awards include the Navy Meritorious Service Medal, the Legion of Merit and the National Medal of Technology, awarded last September by President George Bush. She also received the first computer sciences "man of the year" award from the Data Processing Management Association (DPMA) in 1969. Other achievements include retiring from the Navy as a Rear Admiral and the oldest serving officer at that time, and being the first woman to be awarded a PhD in Mathematics from Yale University
Retirement didn't slow Grace Hopper down. Shortly thereafter, she became a Senior Consultant to Digital Equipment Corporation where she was active until about 18 months before her death. She functioned in much the same capacity she did when she was in the Navy, traveling on lecture tours around the country, speaking at engineering forums, colleges, universities and computer seminars passing on the message that managers shouldn't be afraid of change. In her opinion, "the most damaging phrase in the language is `We've always done it this way.'"
Grace said in many of her speeches, "I always promise during my talks that if anyone in the audience says during the next 12 months, 'But we've always done it that way,' I will immediately materialize beside him and haunt him for the next 24 hours and see if I could get him to take a second look." Embracing the unconventional, the clock in her office ran counterclockwise.
Her favorite age group to address was young people between the ages of 17 and 20. She believed they know more, they question more and they learn more than people in what she called the "in-between years", ages 40 to 45. She always placed very high importance on America's youth. Hopper often said, "working with the youth is the most important job I've done. It's also the most rewarding." This seems perfectly natural since she spent all her adult life teaching others.
Hopper was a big hit at the Navy Micro Conference. She loved to tell the story of how the conference started because it supported her famous saying, "It's always easier to ask forgiveness than it is to get permission." Here's the story: A sailor in the Pacific fleet built a computer aboard ship. A picture of the computer appeared in Navy Times where a rear admiral saw it. He wrote the sailor a letter of encouragement. The sailor decided to answer the rear admiral directly, telling him exactly what was wrong with computers in the Pacific fleet and what could be done using microcomputers. (The computer mentality at that time was geared around mainframes.)
As events evolved, the sailor was transferred to the Navy Regional Data Automation Center (NARDAC) in Norfolk, Virginia (now called Naval Computer and Telecommunications Area Master Station LANT) where his technical expertise could be fully utilized. He was part of the team that birthed the first microcomputer conference in 1982. A five point plan was developed that centered around the microcomputer contracts. It provided other needed services for users, including the ability to communicate via a conference.
What started off as a small seminar for 400 people the first year has grown into a full-blown conference, averaging over a thousand attendees every year. It wasn't until the third year that the conference became completely legal.
Chips magazine is an offshoot of this same five point plan. In an effort to communicate with even more microcomputer users, NARDAC Norfolk decided to also start a newsletter, then called Chips Ahoy. Neither Navy Micro nor Chips might have been started if someone didn't take the initiative first, worrying about asking permission later.
Grace Hopper was a keynote speaker for the conference in its earlier years, drawing a standing-room-only crowd. Although she had a standard keynote speech, stressing the same message over and over, people were fascinated by her. Her lectures challenged management to keep pace. The Navy Micro Conference still goes on today, alternating between the east and west coasts, still stressing Hopper's unique message to the world: Be innovative, open minded and give people the freedom to try new things.
Hopper enchanted her audiences with tales of the computer evolution and her uncanny ability to predict the trends of the future. Many of her predictions came true right before her eyes as industry built more powerful, more compact machines and developed the operating systems and software that matched her visions. Some of her more innovative ideas include using computers to track the lifecycle of crop eating locusts, building a weather computer, managing water reserves so that everyone would have a fair share and tracking the waves at the bottom of the ocean. She also thought every ship should have a computer that the crew could play with and learn to use.
I never met Grace Hopper, but I did see her at Navy Micro '87. She passed by with her entourage, smoking a filterless Lucky Strike cigarette as she often did. You could hear people whispering, "There she is," as she passed by. My first impression of her was that of a friendly, grandmotherly-type woman who looked almost frail. Those words don't exactly describe the public side of Grace Hopper. She was described by one reporter as a "feisty old salt who gave off an aura of power." This held true in her dealings with top brass, subordinates and interviewers - always interested in getting to the bottom line.
One dream Hopper didn't fulfill was living to the age of 94. She wanted to be here December 31, 1999 for the New Year's Eve to end all New Year's Eve parties. She also wanted to be able to look back at the early days of the computer and say to all the doubters, "See? We told you the computer could do all that!"
Her insight into the future will stay with us even though she's gone. Rear Admiral Grace Murray Hopper was laid to rest with full military honors in Arlington National Cemetery.
[Source: Dickason, Elizabeth. "Remembering Grace Murray Hopper: A Legend in Her Own Time." Chips, 12 no. 2 (April 1992): 4-7.]
By Elizabeth Dickason
Researching this article led me to our local library where I found a delightful book that included some little known facts on Grace's early childhood. The book "Grace Hopper, Navy Admiral and Computer Pioneer" by Charlene W. Billings gives us fresh insight into Hopper's formative years.
Born 9 December 1906, Grace was the oldest of three children, named after her mother's best friend, Grace Brewster. She described her childhood as a happy one, spending most summers at their cottage on Lake Wentworth in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire. Grace is followed in age by her sister, Mary, three years younger with Roger coming along two years after that. They were typical kids, playing kick-the-can, hide-and-seek and cops-and-robbers with their cousins during those lakeside summers.
Grace often thought she took "the brunt of everything." In the book, she talks about the time she and a bunch of cousins were caught climbing a tree. Because she was the highest up in the tree, she was accused of being the instigator. She lost her swimming privileges for a week. She and Mary also learned needlepoint and cross-stitch at the request of their mother. Other hobbies she enjoyed were reading and playing the piano.
She was a very curious child. Once when she was seven years old, her curiosity got the best of her. She decided to find out how her alarm clock worked. After an unsuccessful attempt at putting it back together, she ended up taking apart seven alarm clocks she found throughout the house. When her mother caught on to what she was doing, she was restricted to one clock. She carried this curiosity throughout her whole life, having a weakness for gadgets and how they worked.
Grace's father, Walter Fletcher Murray was an insurance broker, as his father was before him. Grace's mother, Mary Campbell Van Horne Murray, had a love for math, much the same way Grace did. Grace's grandfather on her mother's side, John Van Horne, was a senior civil engineer for the city of New York. When her mother was young, she went with her father on surveying trips. Special arrangements were even made for Grace's mother to study geometry, but she wasn't allowed to take algebra or trigonometry. In the late 1800s, it wasn't proper for a young lady to study mathematics seriously.
Mathematical skills were more properly relegated to keeping household accounts and managing the family's finances. Because Grace's father had hardening of the arteries both legs were amputated by the time Grace was in high school. Fear of being a widow made Grace's mother strive to be financially literate. However, Grace's father beat the odds and lived to be seventy-five.
Walter wanted the best for his children and instilled the drive and ambition that helped form young Grace. He believed his daughters should have the same educational opportunities as his son. Knowing he didn't have much money to leave them, he emphasized education so they could care for themselves. Grace said her father encouraged her to leave the usual feminine roles behind. She did just that, fighting many obstacles to serve in the U.S. Navy.
Grace attended the Graham School and Schoonmakers School in New York City, both private schools for girls, where a large part of their time was spent teaching their students to be ladies. Although at Schoonmakers School, Grace played basketball, field hockey and water polo.
When it was time to prepare for college, she flunked a Latin exam. Vassar College, where she was applying, said she'd have to wait a year to enter. Her family agreed, saying she was too young to go to college. In the fall of 1923, Grace became a boarding student at Hartridge School in Plainfield, New Jersey, finally entering Vassar the following fall at the age of seventeen.
When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor bringing on World War II, Grace wanted to serve her country by joining the military. The obstacles would have deterred a lesser person. She was 34 which was considered too old for enlistment, and the government had declared her occupation as a mathematics professor as crucial. Navy officials told her she could best serve the war effort by remaining a civilian. Undaunted, she managed to get special permission and a leave of absence from her teaching position at Vassar. She also wrangled a waiver on the weight requirement. Weighing in at 105, she was sixteen pounds underweight for her height of five feet six inches. Grace persevered and was sworn into the U.S. Navy Reserve in December 1943. For 43 years, she proudly served the Navy she loved so dearly.
About the Author: Dickason is the Assistant Editor of Chips.
[Source: Dickason, Elizabeth. " Looking Back: Grace Murray Hopper's Younger Years." Chips 12 no. 2 (April 1992): 5-8.]
By Diane Hamblen
Grace Hopper isn't gone. Once removed maybe, but not gone. She'll never leave me alone. She said so as she poked one boney finger into my shoulder and peered into my eyes saying, "If you let anything happen to Chips, I'll come back and haunt you!" I'm not often at a loss for words, but with a wrinkled little lady in an admiral's suit crowding close enough to see me sweat, all I could do was mumble, "I won't let anything happen. I promise." I've revisited that promise many times, knowing the lady started haunting me long before she left us.
Chips was one of her babies; I'm the designated guardian. And no one in heaven or on earth wields enough influence with Hopper to help me if I blow the assignment. That was clearly understood between us.
I took over stewardship of Chips in March of '86. The first edition that I had any control over was July. Being a bit of a grandstander myself, along with being incredibly stupid, I decided to start my Chips career with a bang. I'd try for an interview with this crusty lady admiral who was going to speak at the upcoming Navy Micro Conference.
Me afraid? Get real. Lois Lane is never afraid of anything. Maybe a little apprehensive about Superman in tights, but that's the extent of it. Besides, I'd seen admirals before, big ones, small ones, in between ones. I was always more or less appropriately impressed and well behaved.
I made the required phone calls and was granted an audience at 9:00 p.m. on a Wednesday night. Swell. That's past my bedtime, and I was absolutely certain it was past lights out for a 70-year-old-plus, admiral or not.
As I look back on that night, I don't know what I really expected. Whatever it was, it was light years away from what I got.
True to my profession, I did my homework. Armed with a tape recorder, spare tapes, pad of paper, two pens and well-prepared, pre-sanctioned questions, I arrived at the designated audience chamber, the lobby of the Hotel Radisson, well ahead of the appointed hour. Promptly at 9 o'clock, the elevator door opened, and the lady emerged. Shaking my hand she said, "So you're the new Chips editor. What makes you think you can do the job?"
Commodore Grace M. Hopper
Special Assistant to the Commander,
Naval Data Automation Command.
The interview didn't go downhill from there, but it sure established who controlled whom. We talked; I asked my questions. She talked; I changed tapes. She talked some more; I changed tapes again. She smoked; I took notes. She started asking me questions; I ran out of tape. She was winding up; I was winding down.
I had expected the usual 30-minute interview. So much for anticipation. My bedtime was now well behind me, and I was sagging. Around 10:45, I noticed a gaggle of young people. However late the hour, these kids were listening to Hopper lecture me and were waiting for a small audience of their own. Hopper didn't disappoint any of them. It was nearly midnight when I tottered to my car, leaving her still holding court with her fan club. The next morning I took a few editorial liberties with my starting time, arriving at the conference around 9:00 a.m. No sooner had I cleared the portals of the Pavilion Convention Center when my boss, panic clearly showing in his eyes, rushed up to say, "Admiral Hopper wants to see you. You left last night before she was finished."
Round two started with Hopper towing me around the convention center with the crowds parting before us, all the while lecturing me on what she expected from Chips. In many ways, Hopper was a character of her own creation. She understood showmanship and worked a crowd like the trooper she was. Her gimmick was the nanosecond, and her appeal was universal. She was loved, revered, respected, talked about and enjoyed. The lady was ours, and she had grit.
I'll remember my promise, your Amazing Grace. I'll take care of the baby.
[Source: Hamblen, Diane. "Editorial." Chips 12, no.2 (April 1992): 3.]
By Captain Grace M. Hopper, USNR
Early in the 1950's, a Naval War College correspondence course included a task which, in part, and paraphrased, read:
1. Make a plan to take an island.
2. Review the plan in the light of all possible enemy actions.
3. Examine the cost of the failure to execute the plan.
This technique must be applied to all plans for the use of computer equipment. It is insufficient to plan on the past alone; the plan must be examined in the light of "all possible future developments." Further, the lost-opportunity cost of omitting the plan or any part of the plan must be evaluated against the cost of implementing the plan. In a practical sense we examine feasible alternatives and future developments that we can foresee.
The examination of future possibilities is dictated by factors endemic in the computer world: the acceleration of change in hardware developments, the exponential increase in the complexity of application systems, the changing ratio of software against hardware costs and the steadily increasing demand for information-processed data for management decision-making. All of these are pressured by an increasingly complex and independent world with its growing population, greater demand for supplies of food and goods, recurring shortages and unpredictable economic and political events. More rapid decisions require fast acquisition of more data and more timely interrelation and reporting of the derived information.
One of Parkinson's laws says in effect that the growth of a system increases its complexity and that this increase of complexity leads ultimately to confusion and to chaos. Even before this final stage is reached, however, facilities can be so overloaded that a small breakdown anywhere in the system produces a close to catastrophic result.
The proper preventive measure is to divide the system into subsystems, each module being as nearly independent as possible. When an enterprise created and directed by a single man grows beyond his ability to manage alone, he will divide it into divisions and sections and appoint vice-presidents to manage them. No engineer would attempt to design a missile alone; rather he will identify sections - nosecone with payload, guidance system, fuel section, motor - and the interface between them. Each section is then contracted to a specialist in that category. To divide the work properly he must have a clear understanding of the how and why of each subdivision's contribution to the whole.
The application of systems techniques has been successful in scientific and technical applications and to some extent in business situations. It meets difficulty when it is applied in social and political situations largely because people are not "well-behaved" mathematical functions, but can only be represented by statistical approximations, and all of the extremes can and do occur.
Entire books have been and will be written on the application of systems concepts to the development, transmission and use of information by computers. It is clear that as the quantity of information grows, so also does the complexity of its structure, the difficulty of selecting the information pertinent to a particular decision and the amount of "noise" infiltrating the information. A flow is smooth and clear so long as the quantity of flow matches the size of the conduit. If the flow is increased or the conduit roughened, turbulence and confusion or "noise" appear.
Yet, information in large quantities must flow smoothly to decision makers if large systems are to be managed efficiently. Computers can process, control and direct this flow of information, but the speed and capacity of a single computer are limited by physical factors such as the velocity of electronic and optical circuits and the ability to dissipate heat, by cost of hardware and software, and by the ability of human beings to construct error-free, monolithic systems. Only by paralleling processors can the physical limits be overcome. The division of systems into subsystems also provides an answer to the complexity and cost of software as well as reducing error potentials. Fortunately, the rapid reduction in the cost of hardware, occurring simultaneously with an increase in the power of hardware, makes modular systems possible in the present - and practical in the near future.
Paralleling of peripheral operations with central processor operations using multiprogramming techniques is common practice. Computer systems encompassing co-equal multiprocessors are also available. But, both types of systems are monolithic. The first is controlled by the single central processor and the second by a single executive (operating system). Hence to cope with more information, processor and executive alike can only grow larger, faster and more complex, more subject to the increase of the turbulence and noise and more demanding of controls and housekeeping to maintain the information flow. The system begins to resemble a dinosaur with a large, unwieldy load on his back. At some point an added requirement, like the proverbial straw, will cause a collapse.
Thus at some point in the life of any system it becomes too large to be sustained by a single control. Tasks must be divided, subsystems defined and responsibilities delegated. Two elements were necessary before the concept of "systems of computers" could become a reality-switching systems and minicomputers.
Consider a system of computers controlling for example, an inventory system. At a remote site, A, a transaction is entered on a console called Alpha. The console contains a minicomputer which checks the message and reduces it to a minimal format using a "telephone number" or an "address" to dial the switching center, Beta, for the inventory minicomputers. Unless all are "busy," in which case Alpha must try again after a delay, computer Gamma accepts Alpha's message. Gamma determines that the message indicates the receipt of a particular shipment, B, at a certain warehouse, C; Gamma "dials" Delta, the computer controlling the necessary master-file entry. Delta locates and transmits the master entry to Gamma who processes the transaction and returns the master entry to Delta for storage. Gamma probably also dials Epsilon with a message to increase the value of the inventory at warehouse C by the amount indicated. Epsilon is a minicomputer controlling a mini-database. Each element of the system contains, and is controlled by, its own minicomputer. Thus, input is processed before its transmitted to the working-processing computers. The librarian minicomputer, Delta, will control the storage, withdrawal and updating of programs and will deliver a program to other minicomputers in the system upon request.
All the computers in such a system operate asynchronously and can be replaced at will - with a few spares on hand, the system cannot really go completely down. The system can shrink or grow since units can be added or interchanged. Functions of an operating system are eliminated or distributed. "Busy signals" limit access to a particular file controller to one mini at a time. Data security can be ensured by the file controllers which can reject requests or transmissions unless properly identified.
Savings in software costs can be considerable. Programs are short, modular and easily debuggable. Compilers break up into input compilers, processing compilers, computing compilers, editing compilers and output compilers. The difficulties encountered in debugging large, complex, interactive software systems are reduced to the lesser difficulties of debugging the component subsystems. Very large computational problems might require an assembly line of minicomputers, manufacturing results just as automobiles are manufactured.
Having cut back on overhead by breaking up the hardware and software into subassemblies and linking them by communications, we must now consider the effect on management information. Since computers were first installed to handle basic record-keeping, most systems operate by first updating basic records. Later, reports are accumulated from the basic record files. Taking a simple example, when a life insurance policy is sold, a record of all the facts about the insured is transmitted to a master file, including name, address, beneficiary, social security number, type of policy amount, salesman, selling office and region. The insurance company marketing manager is not concerned with the facts about the beneficiary but only with the type of policy, amount and where sold. Hence, a mini-database can be maintained online for the local manager's use, in which are stored current totals, such as total sales by salesman, by type and by area for this week or month, as well as last month, last year or any selected comparison bases. Another mini-database can be maintained for national headquarters. However, here the totals would be by the office or by the region rather than by individual salesman. For any basic record file, those quantities which can be totaled are collected. Management will be concerned with such totals and their comparisons and relationships. The mini-databases at each level will hold but a fraction of the raw data, stored in the basic record files. Alternatively, a system of minicomputers can collect management totals as soon as a transaction enters the system, possibly even online, and update the basic files later, possibly in batches.
New concepts such as "systems of computers" and "mini-databases" will have to be employed to meet the challenging problems of the future. If such concepts are so obviously needed, why do the dinosaurs continue to proliferate? Three factors tend to retard the development of the new methods I have described: human allergy to change, economic arguments against disposing of existing hardware and software instantly, and the dearth of systems analysts trained in the new system architecture.
An examination of coming developments should impel the creation of the dispersed systems, but visions of the future collide with the reluctance to alter the old ways. Even in a world of accelerating change, it is still difficult to convince people that the new ways of doing things can be better and cheaper.
Introduction of the new systems must proceed gradually - maybe helped along by a little persuasion, a catch phrase or two ("don't get a bigger computer, get another computer"). If an existing system is nearing saturation, its load can be eased by a front-end computer for validating and editing (which will later move to the data source). A back-end computer can guard and control the data base (and later become the data manager providing access to a system of computers serving the files and segments of files). Wholesale replacement is not required; rather the change may be made step by step as the potential of the new system becomes obvious.
In areas where hardware plays a larger role, such as industrial operations, the microcomputers will appear within the sensors on the equipment. They will communicate with concentrators making local decisions. Concentrators will forward processed and condensed information to local directing computers for action. Messages forwarded to and from the management database will report production and receive instructions for alteration of a mix to be forwarded to controlling minicomputers. Only through such a system of computers operating in parallel will it be possible to provide the speed essential to the control of critical operations.
Thus, there is a challenge, a challenge to bring down the myth of the monolithic, expensive, powerful computer and replace it with a more powerful, more economical, more reliable and above all, more manageable system of computers. A world concerned with more complex problems will require a quantum jump in information processing to meet management requirements. The computers can assist, but only insofar as they are recognized as sophisticated tools and as they are reformed and organized to meet specific needs for the processed data.
The need for standards will become clear as communications among the components of such a system grow. Data elements, communications protocols, high level languages and more - all must be defined, standardized and conformance insured if large and flexible systems are to prove viable and costs are to be held to acceptable levels.
Once concept must always govern planning - that it consider the future. Ignoring the future results in inadequate, outmoded systems continually in the need of costly change and updating, and never quite in tune with the work requirements. Concomitantly, no innovation or standard should be rejected as too costly without careful evaluation of the "cost of not doing it."
[Source: Bound, William. Selected Computer Articles 1983-84. (Washington DC: National Defense University, Department of Defense Computer Institute): 534-540.]
By Diane Hamblen
Oftentimes stories of the past are just stories. But listening to philosopher and teacher, Admiral Grace Hopper, spin her rich and colored tales is an example of history marching purposefully forward. In this interview, she made it clear that above all she wants the micro community to look to the future while firmly holding the hand of the past.
Admiral Hopper has had a long and distinguished career spanning nearly 40 years of uniformed service. "I'm retiring involuntarily." says Hopper. Even facing retirement she continues to challenge us to keep pace with her forward march.
Chips Ahoy: Will Gramm-Rudman make serious inroads into our purchasing power for new ADP [Automatic Data Processing ] equipment? [The Gramm-Rudman Bill was enacted in 1985, when Congress was under intense public pressure to immediately reform the budget and reduce the $200 billion budget deficit. Gramm-Rudman reduced and, in some areas, froze defense spending.]
Hopper: I don’t know what Gramm-Rudman will do to us. But I suggested to Admiral Sutherland [Rear Adm. Paul Sutherland Jr., Commander, Naval Data Automation Command] and since then to Mr. Hancock, that we should threaten to turn off all the data processing computers. That should fix them! They won’t know where anybody is or where the ships are. They won't know where anchorages are. They won't know where anything is. They won’t know what they have or what they are committed to. They can’t run the Navy without our computers.
Chips Ahoy: If Gramm-Rudman cuts into our ADP money, how long will our current micros last? Should managers get rid of their older models? Should a government activity market its own used micros?
Hopper: Well, micros don’t break down. Manufacturers just come up with newer models with better capabilities. But activities will have to upgrade because they’ll need the new abilities. Now we're beginning to see second hand computer stores. They aren't a chain yet, but they will be. The kids can buy computers cheap. Sell the old one, buy a new one. Just like a used car for computers.
From the government's point of view the prices are right. And if you're selling the old one, it's not costing you much to upgrade. I don’t know what we do at present, but I know we should be selling them because there’s a market in Africa, South America and Asia.
Chips Ahoy: Will we ever see a paper free environment? What benefit will it be to us?
Hopper: Not until we get the younger generation in charge, we won’t. At present, we’re putting on paper a lot of stuff that never needed to be on paper. We do need to keep the records, but there isn’t any reason for printing them. The next generation growing up with computers will change that. When I say the next generation, I’m thinking about my grandnephew and grandniece. They’re two and four.
One form of paper that will remain is magazines, newspapers and books. Those we’ll keep, but not all this junk we pile up. There is one guy in the Pentagon who gets a printout about a foot thick every day. Then he takes yesterday’s [printout] and puts it in a locked room. I know darn well he can’t read that pile in 24 hours. What he must look for is the biggest numbers or the least numbers, and the computer could do it for him. But it’s his security blanket. His job is getting a big pile of paper everyday. He does his job.
Chips Ahoy: What about the people who are losing their jobs because of the increased use of computers?
Hopper: They’re not losing their jobs because of computers. It’s because the whole structure of organizations is changing. For example, after World War II we went overboard on management. We had MBAs and lawyers and tremendous staffs. With the recession, people began to find out they didn’t need all that, and they turned more toward operations. A lot of those staff people were totally unnecessary. And they were unnecessary from the very beginning. The Pentagon is loaded with them. Changing organizational structures dislocate people not computers or other new equipment.
Chips Ahoy: Computers will count beans, bullets and black oil. They will keep our data and process our words, but what new things are microcomputers going to be able to do for us?
Hopper: They're already doing new things. You're not looking at the small groups. For example, there is a magazine called Genealogical Computing. And under the New England Historical Genealogical Society, there's a computer club. These genealogical computer clubs are all across the country. There is some beautiful software; one is called Roots. They make all the spreadsheets of all your ancestors. The big genealogical center in Utah is going to go on-line soon so people can access it. There you have a whole community of people that you didn't realize were using computers.
Here's another one. If you do counted cross stictch, there is a program that lets you put your pattern on the screen. Two bars tell you right where you are on your pattern. I don't think people are paying attention to other people who are handling unique types of information.
Chips Ahoy: Are there many other hobby groups that need special software?
Hopper: I don't know. They're growing all over. I know of a fisherman who uses his computer to keep track of the fish in his lake. Every time he catches a fish, he notes in his file what part of the lake, what time of day, what the weather was, what lure he used, what kind of fish, how heavy it was. That's storing information and making it directly accessible.
Chips Ahoy: Are we relying too much on the computer?
Hopper: Either you use computers or you can’t do the job. Look at banking. You used to have a loan, a checking account and a savings account. That’s all you could have. Look at what you can have now. They couldn’t compute all those things for all those individuals and for all those individual services if they didn’t have the computers. You used to buy an insurance policy on your house, your car, and your life. Now agents can write a policy for your entire family. Including your house, your car and eveyrthing else, tailored for your family. You have revolving credit accounts in stores, you couldn't have any of that stuff without the computer. All that personalized service depends on the computer. There aren’t enough workers to cope with it. If AT&T and the telephone company didn't use computers there wouldn't be enough people to route calls.
Chips Ahoy: That brings up the question of the telephone and the computer. Lots of people, especially in the Government, have old dial telephones. Is it going to become commonplace in an ordinary office environment for our computers to communicate with each other?
Hopper: Computers can call each other now. We have modems right in the computer. Commonplace? Oh sure. It has to. The computer does it -- if you have a modem.
Chips Ahoy: What’s next for the computer?
Hopper: We should be building a weather computer. We can’t use a general purpose computer. A weather computer could take all the information we have and make better, long-term predictions. But until we have more powerful computers, we can’t do long-term forecasting. The computers have to be faster, store more data and access more data. We don’t have that capability now, and we won’t see it until someone realizes it can be done.
NASA has a computer, which consists of an array of 128 by 128 computers, 16,384 processors all in one computer. It’s used to scan Landsat [satellite] data to see if the color of the desert changes. If the color changes there might be oil under it. We could use it to track locusts that are attacking a crop. Wish we had one like that for the weather. We don’t have one to find out about those waves at the bottom of the ocean that the Navy wants to study either.
Here’s another more direct one. We're going to have to manage water. My sister lives in New Jersey. A couple of years ago they had a water shortage, and they were limited to fifty gallons of water each a day. Down in Florida they’ve pulled so much water out of the underlying aquifer that they’ve produced sink holes that they dump houses and cars into. They’ve taken so much out of the aquifer in Phoenix that the whole city is sinking, so it cracks open. Half of Colorado is short of water, the other half has water. The eight Great Lakes states and the two provinces of Canada have formed a water consortium. They’re going to manage the Great Lakes' water. They’ll only sell it at a very high price to those people in the Southwest. You’re going to have to manage water. Now you have a tremendous engineering job building more reservoirs and pipelines. You’ll need a computer system that will ensure that every resident of the United States has his or her fair share of water. How would you like to tackle that job?
Chips Ahoy: Do you think we need another major weapons system? Do you have any hesitation about a computer controlling it?
Hopper: Absolutely essential. It might not stop an all out Russian attack, but I don’t think we’ll get one. But there are still the crazies and it would stop the crazies. If someone has four or five missiles, you can shoot them down. If you don’t shoot them down, you’ll start World War III. The computer will have to run the system. They’re more reliable than a lot of people.
Chips Ahoy: What happens to the roll of the tactician? Will World War III have a tactician the caliber of General Patton now that we’re letting the computer play the game?
Hopper: The computer will probably do it better. The computer’s decisions will come from those very people. Computers don’t do anything. People have to tell them what to do. Don't misunderstand me. The programmer doesn’t have anything to do with it. It’s the person that feeds the information and the data in and says what you’re going to do with it that counts. The system design comes from someone that knows the problem. The programmer just does as he’s told. Programmers don’t solve problems. Our tacticians will take on a new dimension. The tactician would say that under particular conditions we do this, and under other conditions we do that. That’s the underpinning of artificial intelligence.
There’s a system for identifying infections called MYCIN. [MYCIN is a rule-based system that diagnoses bacterial infections of the blood.] The experts have collected information from doctors all over the United States. When a doctor calls in with specific infection symptoms, the system comes back and asks him if he’s noticed this or noticed that. The doctor answers. The system says, "I think you’re treating such and such, and you should do this." It’s probably something we couldn’t have imagined a few years ago. But for infections, it's absolutely marvelous. MYCIN is an outstanding example of the very first of the artificial intelligence expert routines.
You do the same thing in tactical. You collect all the information from all the tactical experts, and the computer tells you what you have. It might ask you if you saw this or did you try that. And then it will recommend what to do. You have the knowledge of the best people at your fingertips.
Here’s another example. The captain of a ship might call down and ask how many gallons of fuel he has. You could tell him how many gallons. But how much nicer if you told him, "You have so many gallons, you’re steaming north by northwest, into a northwest wind and you’re using this many gallons an hour and you can keep that up for so many hours." That way you’re giving him a more complete answer to his question. Basically the same questions haven’t changed, just the depth of the answers and the ability to access them.
Chips Ahoy: Will everyone have quick access to information?
Hopper: Ultimately, in the next generationwhen our bright youngsters take over. I watched third grade students in Independence, Missouri write programs in BASIC [programming language] and debug them. They’ll be able to handle the computers when they grow up. My two-year old grandnephew has a program that says "V". John looks at the keyboard and hits V. A big V comes up, an he cheers. He knows the whole alphabet and all the digits. He can type his name. His four-year-old sister thinks he should be able to type her name too. I think Deborah is a little too long for a two and a half-year-old. She has Speak and Spell and the Little Professor. She can do all her arithmetic. She knows how to spell a tremendous number of words. I don't know what she's going to do to her kindergarten teacher when she gets there. But it will be interesting.
Kids will be using computers instead of memorizing their multiplication tables. This will give them more time to solve word problems, which is much more useful. That's the real problem. Not the arithmetic but the interpretation. Of course if someone doesn't upgrade those problems, they'll still be emptying that blasted cistern.
There is a generation coming that will be different. We’re already beginning to get the 17- and 18-year-olds in the Navy that have had computers and used them.
Chips Ahoy: Do you think the current popularity of micros is just a fad?
Hopper: No, the big mainframes are going to disappear. In fact, I intend to scuttle them. They have to go. They’ll be too slow. We’ll build systems of computers. It will be a whole bunch of micros, and they’ll all call each other up and talk. If you use a big mainframe, first you have to do inventory and then you do payroll and so on. You might just as well have a micro doing each of those jobs all working in parallel. That’s the way you get the speed. The big pressure is going to be on faster answers. There never was a good reason for putting inventory and payroll on the same machine. The only reason you did it was because you could only afford to own one computer. That’s no longer true. The micros are as big [in terms of processing capacity] as mainframes were only 10 or 12 years ago. Back then a big mainframe had 64K. That’s smaller than today’s micros by a long shot.
Chips Ahoy: Is there a limit of what micros can do for us?
Hopper: They’ll only be limited if our imaginations are limited. It’s all up to us. Remember, there were people who said the airplane couldn’t fly.
Chips Ahoy: Why are you such a supporter of Chips Ahoy?
Hopper: I like the fact that it reviews hardware and software totally impartially. Chips Ahoy has never been attached to any particular computer. Almost all of the other magazines are either attached to one of the manufacturers or else they have in-house a particular computer, which slants everything [they are reporting].
Hopper: Now I have a question. Why don't you get the darn system fixed [Chips' distribution] so people can get subscriptions? There are a lot of schools and businesses that want the magazine.
Chips Ahoy: We're trying, Admiral. We've already asked the Government Printing Office for approval to sell Chips Ahoy.
Hopper: Why don't you just go ahead and do it? Remember, "It's easier to ask forgiveness than it is to get permission."
[Source: Hamblen, Diane. "Only the Limits of Our Imagination: An Exclusive Interview with Rear Adm. Grace M. Hopper, Amazing Grace." Chips Ahoy 6, no. 16 (July 1986): 3-6.]
Bilings, Charlene W. Grace Hopper: Navy Admiral and Computer Pioneer. Hillside, NJ: Enslow, 1989.
Bound, William. Selected Computer Articles 1983-84. Washington, DC: National Defense University, Department of Defense Computer Institute. [see "Hopper, Grace" pp. 534-540].
Godson, Susan H. Serving Proudly: A History of Women in the U.S. Navy. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 2001.
Hopper, Grace and Steve Mandell. Understanding Computers. St. Paul, MN: West Publishing, 1984.
Mitchell, Carmen L. The Contributions of Grace Murray Hopper to Computer Science and Computer Education. Ann Arbor, MI: University Microfilms, 1995.
Whitelaw, Nancy. Grace Hopper: Programming Pioneer. New York: W. H. Freeman, 1995.
Williams, Kathleen Broome. Grace Hopper: Admiral of the Cyber Sea. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 2004.
____. Improbable Warriors: Woman Scientists and the U.S. Navy in World War II. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 2001.
Aiken, H. H., and Hopper, Grace M. "The Automatic Sequence Controlled Calculator, I-III." Electronic Engineering 65 (August-September 1946): 384-91, 449-54, 522-28.
Andel, Tom. "Grace Hopper: Pioneer." Communications News (October 1989): 6-7.
Associated Press. "Navy's Oldest Officer Logs Off after 43 Years on Computers." New Haven Register (15 August 1986).
Bass, Brad. "Rear Admiral Hopper Finds Job and Plenty of Else To Do." Government Computer News 5 (September 1986): 2.
Betts, Mitch. "Grace Hopper. Mother of Cobol." Computerworld (6 January 1992): 13-14.
Bromberg, Howard. "Grace Murray Hopper: A Rememberence." IEEE Software (May 1992): 103, 105.
Crushman, John H. "Admiral Hopper's Farewell." New York Times (14 August 1986): B6, column 3-4.
Dickason, Elizabeth. "Looking Back: Grace Murray Hopper's Younger Years." Chips 12 no. 2 (April 1992): 5-8.
____. "Rembering Grace Murray Hopper: A Legend In Her Own Time." Chips 12 no. 2 (April 1992): 4-7.
"Digital Hires Dr. Hopper." New York Times (3 September 1986): D3, column 1.
"Grace Hopper Mixes Insight, Forsight; Has Important Role in 'Man's World.'" UNIVAC News 7 (March 1967): 4.
Hamblen, Diane. "Editorial." Chips 12 no. 2 (April 1992): 3.
___ . "Only the Limits of Our Imagination: An exclusive interview with Rear Adm. Grace M. Hopper, Amazing Grace." Chips Ahoy 6, no. 16 (July 1986): 3-6.
Hopper, Grace. "Compiling Routines." Computers and Automation (May 1953): 1-5.
____. "Standardization and the Future of Computers." Data Management (April 1970): 32-35.
Hopper, Grace and Janet J. Barron "Prioritizing Information." Byte (May 1991): 169-171.
Johnson, Steve. "Grace Hopper - A Living Legend." All Hands (September 1982): 3-6.
Markoff, John. "Rear Adm. Grace M. Hopper Dies; Innovator in Computers Was 85." New York Times. (3 January 1992): A18
Mason, John F. "Grand Lady of Software." Electronic Design 22 (25 October 1976): 86.
Pearson, Riochard. "Adm. Hopper Dies: Pioneer in Computers." The Washington Post (4 January 1992): D4, column 1.
Petzinger, Thomas, Jr. "History of Software Begins with Work of Some Brainy Women." Wall Street Journal (15 November 1996).
____. "Female Pioneers Fostered Practicality in Computer Industry." Wall Street Journal (22 November 1996).
Raussa, Rosario. "Computers In the Navy." Navy History 6, no. 3 (Fall 1992): 4-5.
____. "In Profile: Grace Murray Hopper." Naval History 6, no. 3 (Fall 1992): 58-61.
Sandler, Corey. "Keeping Up with Grace." PC Magazine (December 1983): 211.
Still, George. "Hopper: 'We're at the Beginning.'" Pentagram (15 December 1983): 1.
Sussman, Doris. "Pentagon Computer Pioneer - They Won't Let Her Retire." Jacksonville [FL] Journal (28 August 1975).
Tropp, Henry S. "Grace Hopper: The Youthful Teacher of Us All." Abacus (Fall 1984): 8.
Weiss, Eric. "Hopper's Legacy: Innovation, Education." IEEE Software (March 1992): 95.
Welch, Gregory W. "Howard Hathaway Aiken: The Life of a Computer Pioneer." The Computer Museum Report 12 (Spring 1985): 7.
Wetzstein, Cheryl, and Linda Joyce Forristal. "Grace Murray Hopper." The World and I (August 1989): 298-205.
Zietara, Marguerite. "Capt. Grace M. Hopper & The Genesis of Programming Languages." Computerworld (16 November 1981): 49-54.
____. Captain Grace M. Hopper and the Genesis of Programming Languages." The History of Computing. " (1981): 51-53.
"Transcript of Naval Service for Commodore Grace Murray Hopper, US Naval Reserve," dated 1 July 1985. Grace Hopper file; Biographies, 20th Century Collection; Navy Department Library.