Happy Birthday Grace Hopper!

By James S. Davis [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

By James S. Davis [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Today (December 9th) is Grace Hopper’s birthday. You may be wondering who the heck Grace Hopper is. Well, she was a trailblazer in the arena of computer science. And I don’t just mean a trailblazer for women but for the whole field!

She held degrees in mathematics and physics along with a PhD in Mathematics. She took a leave of absence in WWII in order to sign up with the Navy and served on the Mark I computer staff, and that was an arithmetical computer. She went on to help develop the operational compiler on the UNIVAC which showed that computers could do more than just arithmetic analysis.

Grace Hopper believed that programming should look more like English and helped pave the way for Fortran and COBOL. Hopper helped advise the development of COBOL, which I heard referred to as the language of money businesses when I was in college. She also helped develop testing standards and may have originated the term “bug”.

Grace Hopper rose to the rank of Rear Admiral. She also has a destroyer named after her (USS Hopper) and the Cray XE6!! She also was a goodwill ambassador who gave lectures on computer science and she always wore a full dress uniform even though she was retired.

Happy Birthday to an inspiration and a great mind. Grace Hopper has left an indelible mark on the world, computers and education!!!

Where I first saw her on the David Letterman show.

Marissa Maher, Yahoo, and Telecommuting

I weigh in on all the controversy with Marissa Maher and the famous Yahoo memo. What does this mean for telecommuting and Yahoo. Is Maher a traitor to her gender?

The Fabulous Ada Lovelace

Ada Lovelace (Picture sourced from Wikipedia)

Ada Lovelace (Picture sourced from Wikipedia)

March is Women’s History Month and to celebrate that I want to take this month as an opportunity to highlight some women who have come before in the STEM fields (which frankly, I consider blogging to loosely be one;). And to kick it off, lets go to the beginning. The beginning of computer science.

Ada Lovelace is considered the first computer programmer. Not the first female computer programmer but the first period! She was the product of Lord Byron’s defunct marriage to Annabella Milbanke (Baroness Byron). As often happens as a result of bad divorces, Ada’s mother didn’t want Ada to follow in her father’s footsteps. So in order to prevent the poetic spirit from finding purchase in Ada, her mother brought in a lot of tutors in math and logic to develop that side of Ada before the age of 8.

And that side did develop! I have seen Ada Lovelace referred to herself as a poetic mathematician.

He friendship with Charles Babbage is where our Computer Scientist found something to computer science;). She wrote about how Babbage’s Analytical Engine went beyond a calculation machine and could actually be programmed. She was Babbage’s advocate and was basically his evangelist.

Ada was married to William King which actually made her Countess of Lovelace. She died of uterine cancer at 36 years old.

I find admirable for so many reasons. First off, she proves that extensive exposure to math and logic as a child has a strong effect!!! She had male friends in a time when society wasn’t quite ok with that;). I also admire her husband that he was willing to take on the critical eye of society to be married to a fabulous woman like that. I also really admire Ada Lovelace because  helped create computer science!!!!

I find it interesting that Babbage isn’t considered the first Computer Scientist since he created the machine. I think it took Ada Lovelace’s poetic communication skills to really clarify the thinking and make it something other could understand, thus creating a field that has changed every aspect of our lives.



Sally Ride Passed Away

Picture from NASA site

I remember being a little girl when it was announced that an American woman was going into space. I was so excited! Excited that anyone was going to space but very happy a woman was going to be one of them! Sally Ride quickly became a woman who I read about it magazines, news papers and history books with in months!

I was so excited that this female physicist was being recognized as being a great astronaut! I don’t think I immediately grasped the magnitude that Sally Ride was the first American female to reach this level. I wonder if it hit her as she was becoming that woman? Or if was she just a girl doing what she loved regardless of being one of few females in her field? Either way she has become an icon for geeky women everywhere! While she may not have been seeking glory as a woman I am sure she felt the pressure.

I was very sad to find out that she just lost her 18 month battle with cancer, passing away at 61. Not only was she a role model for me as I realized that I loved that I loved math and science but she is already a role model for my daughters. She isn’t just a role model because she flew on a space ship but because she was a physicist and physicists are awesome!!!