Today we continue our series on the programming pioneers of American women’s history, thanks to Heather Elizabeth Ross.
Jean E. Sammet (1928- )
Jean E. Sammet was one of the first women to be awarded a Ph.D. in Computer Science (1968, Stanford). She holds a B.A. in Mathematics from Mount Holyoke College (1948) and a M.A. in Mathematics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (1949). Sammet joined IBM in 1961 and while there, initiated the concept of and developed FORMAC, the first widely-used computer language forthe symbolic manipulation of mathematical formulas. She worked at IBM for 27years, and was a member of the subcommittee that created COBOL. Sammet was also the President of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) from 1974-1976 and an ACM Fellow in 1994. She received the Lovelace Award in 1989.
Admiral Grace Murray Hopper (1906 – 1992)
Admiral Grace Murray Hopper was one of the first female computer programmers, the first woman to graduate from Yale with a Ph.D in mathematics, and the first woman to reach the rank of Admiral in the U.S. Navy. In addition to inventing the first computer compiler in1952, Admiral Hopper developed COBOL (Common Business-Oriented Language). She was instrumental in the creation of FLOW-MATIC, the language used by the UNIVAC I and UNIVAC II computers. She is credited with popularizing the terms “bug” and “debugging” after she had to remove a moth from the inside of a computer. In addition, it was Admiral Hopper who first said, “It is easier to ask forgiveness than it is to get permission.” The USS Hopper (DDG-70) guided missile destroyer is named in her honor. On January 7, 1992, Rear Admiral Hopper was buried with full naval honors at Arlington National Cemetery.