Kate Wiley (202) 633-3656
Smithsonian’s Lemelson Center Releases New Book on Inventor Grace Hopper
The life of World War II computer scientist explored.
The Jerome and Dorothy Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Press announce the release of "Grace Hopper and the Invention of the Information Age" by Kurt Beyer. The 408-page book incorporates thousands of hours of interviews with Hopper and her peers and reveals, for the first time, the intriguing and complex story of a mathematics professor who became a Navy officer and computer scientist.
Hopper (1906–92), a mathematics professor, joined the Navy at the outset of World War II and found herself at the forefront of the computer revolution. Assigned to the Bureau of Ships Computation Project at Harvard University, she was one of the first programmers of the Harvard Mark I computer--the first large-scale automatic digital computer in the United States, which became operational in May 1944. She also developed the first compiler for a computer-programming language, which translates a human-readable text file into a form that the computer can more easily understand, allowing humans to better communicate with computers.
"Grace Hopper was an influential contributor to the development of computers as we know them today in a time when society relegated women to the home," said Arthur Molella, director of the Lemelson Center. "The center’s partnership with MIT Press continues to allow us to share these inspiring stories of the American inventive spirit."
Hopper retired in 1986 with the rank of Rear Admiral as the oldest officer in the U.S. Navy. She was awarded the National Medal of Technology in 1991 and the ship USS Hopper, nicknamed "Amazing Grace," was launched in 1996--one on a very short list of vessels named after women.
Beyer is a former professor at the U.S. Naval Academy and lectures regularly on the process of technological innovation. He is a cofounder of a digital-media services company and has written multiple pending patents on high-speed digital-data processing. Beyer was chosen as an author in the Lemelson Center Studies in Invention and Innovation series by a team of Lemelson Center staff and MIT Press editors.
"Grace Hopper and the Invention of the Information Age" is available online and in bookstores for $27.95.
The Lemelson Center and MIT Press have established an interdisciplinary book series on topics in the history of invention and innovation. Books in the Lemelson Center Studies in Invention and Innovation series explore the work of inventors and the technologies they create in order to advance scholarship in history, engineering, science and related fields. Other titles include "Inventing for the Environment," "Internet Alley: High Technology in Tyson’s Corner, 1945-2005" and "Invented Edens: Techno-Cities of the 20th Century."
The Smithsonian’s Lemelson Center is dedicated to exploring invention in history and encouraging inventive creativity in young people. The center is supported by The Lemelson Foundation, a private philanthropy established by one of the country’s most prolific inventors, Jerome Lemelson, and his family. The Lemelson Center is located in the National Museum of American History. For more information, visit http://invention.smithsonian.org.
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