Grace Hopper was born in New York, New York, in 1906. She held a BS in mathematics and physics from Vassar College (1928) and an MS (1930) and PhD in mathematics (1934) from Yale University.
Hopper began her career teaching at Vassar and taught there from 1931 to 1943, when she joined the US Navy Reserve. Her first assignment was to work with Professor Howard Aiken of the Harvard Computation Laboratory on problems of military significance.
Hopper remained at Harvard until 1949, when she joined the Eckert-Mauchly Computer Corporation, led by the designers of the groundbreaking ENIAC computer system. There, she developed one of the world's first compilers and compiler-based programming languages. In 1959, Hopper played an important role in defining a new easy-to- use programming language. The result was COBOL, probably the most successful programming language for business applications in history.
Hopper retired from the US Navy Reserve in 1986 with the rank of Rear Admiral and was then hired as a senior consultant to Digital Equipment Corporation, a position she retained until her death in 1992, at age 86.
Hopper was widely recognized for her achievements and her often humorous lectures on computer science topics. She received many awards, including the US National Medal of Technology (1991).