Amazing Grace Hopper on Letterman
For whatever reason, this extremely old clip of Rear Admiral Grace Hopper on the David Letterman show is making the rounds at Reddit:
Hopper was an amazing lady. She earned a PhD in mathematics at Yale in 1934, at a time when women simply didn’t do such things. She left the faculty of Vassar in 1943, at the age of 37, to join the WAVES, the women’s Navy auxiliary.
She went on to work on the team that developed the world’s first modern computer, the Harvard Mark I, and pioneered dozens of innovations in computer science over a long career. She retired twice, in 1966 and 1971, but was persuaded to come back to active duty within a few months both times. She ultimately retired for good in 1986 as a rear admiral. A Burke class destroyer was named after her in 1992.
I gather from the conversation with Letterman that she had just recently retired. She died, aged 85, on New Years Day 1992.
My first exposure to Hopper was as an 18-year-old cadet in 1984 when then-Commodore Hopper addressed our class. (The Navy abolished the rank the next year, renaming it “Rear Admiral, Lower Half.”) She would have been going on 78 years old at the time but she was truly deserving of the nickname Amazing Grace.