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What, exactly, did Grace Murray Hopper do to deserve the praise of feminazis around the world?  They claim that she "invented compilers", but did she have any patents for compilers?  No.  They claim she invented Cobol, but those of us who've programmed in Cobol and Algol for 4 decades have never even heard of Hopper.  A search for the patent holders for compilers produces hundreds of patents, but none for Hopper.





Howard Aiken with the assistance of Grace Hopper, designed the MARK series of computers at Harvard University. The MARK series of computers began with the Mark I in 1944.



Aiken, Howard (Hathaway) b1939 ~
Computer engineer and mathematician, born in Hoboken, New Jersey, USA. He was educated at the Universities of Wisconsin and Chicago before joining the faculty of Harvard, where he spent most of his professional career (1939--61). With his colleagues at Harvard - and with some assistance from International Business Machines - by 1944 he had built the Mark I, the world’s first program-controlled calculator; an early form of a digital computer, it was controlled by both mechanical and electrical devices. Although he went on to build the Mark II (1947) and other computers, they would soon be made obsolete by more advanced electronics. On retiring from Harvard he taught at the University of Miami (1961--1973).

Grace Murray Hopper spent much of her inventive career proving that something that's never been done before isn't impossible.

It was this kind of positive thinking that inspired Hopper to invent the first computer "compiler" in 1952. This revolutionary software facilitated the first automatic programming of computer language. Before Hopper's invention, programmers had to write lengthy instructions in binary code (computer language) for every new piece of software. Because binary code consists solely of 0's and 1's, it was difficult for programmers to get through their time-consuming tasks without many frustrating mistakes.

Hopper knew there had to be a solution to this dilemma. Determined, she wrote a new program which freed software developers from having to write repetitive binary code. Each time the computer needed instructions that were common to all programs, the compiler would have the computer refer to codes in its own memory.

The compiler was a time and error-saving breakthrough for the computer world, but Hopper didn't stop there. She also invented COBOL, the first user-friendly business software program, which is still in use today.

By the time she retired in 1986, Rear Admiral Grace Hopper had taken her place in history by questioning the impossible. With a Ph.D. in mathematics and physics from Yale University, she based her success as a computer pioneer on a solid education and a strong and inquisitive will. In her naval office, she hung a clock that ran counterclockwise as a reminder of the key principle to her success: most problems have more than one solution.

Rear Admiral Grace Murray Hopper


Sharron Ann Danis


Rear Admiral Grace Murray Hopper

Born: December 9, 1906, New York City; Died, January 1, 1992, Alexandria, VA

Rear Admiral Hopper was a computer programmer and strong supporter of COBOL programming language. She was a speaker and teacher for the Navy.


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BA, Mathematics and Physics, Vassar College, 1928; MA, Mathematics,Yale University, 1930; Ph.D., Mathematics, Yale University, 1934

Professional Experience:

Associate Professor, Vassar College, 1931 - 1943; Mathematical Officer, US Navy Bureau of Ordinance, 1944-1946; Senior Mathematician, Eckert-Machly Computer Corporation, 1949-1967; Systems Engineer, Sperry Corporation, 1952-1964; Senior consultant, Digital Equipment Corporation, 1986 - 1988.

Honors and Awards:

Phi Beta Kappa, 1928; Man-of-the-year, Data Processing Management Association, 1969; Legion of Merit, 1973; Distinguished Fellow, British Computer Society, 1973; National Medal of Technology; Navy Meritorious Service Medal, 1980; Defense Distinguished Service Medal, 1986; Admiral Hopper received 47 honorary degrees.


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"Amazing Grace" Hopper was Born December 9, 1906 to Walter and Mary Murray in New York City. Hopper was the eldest of three children, followed by sister Mary, 3 years younger and brother Roger, 5 years younger. As a child, Hopper spent most of her summers at her family's cottage on Lake Wentworth in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire. Her childhood was a typical one of climbing trees, playing hide-and-seek and other games with her sister, brother and cousins. From her mother, she and her sister Mary also learned needlepoint and cross-stitch. She also enjoyed reading and playing the piano.

As a child, Hopper loved gadgets. She loved to take things apart. Once when she was seven years old, she decided to find out how her alarm clock worked. She took one alarm clock apart and couldn't put it back together so she took apart another one to see how it is assembled. She ended up taking apart seven alarm clocks from around her house.

Hopper's father, Walter Fletcher Murray worked as an insurance broker. While Hopper was in high school, her father had hardening of the arteries and both his legs were amputated. Her mother, Mary Campbell Van Horne Murray was a house wife. Her mother had a love for math which was obviously passed down. Although her father survived to be seventy five years old, early on, her mother feared being a widow and took on the responsibilities of the finances of the family. She forced herself to become financially literate.

Hopper's parents believed that their daughters should have the same educational opportunities as their son. Her father encouraged her not to follow the traditional roles of women. Hopper followed her fathers instructions in almost everything she did. In high school, she played basketball, field hockey and water polo. When working towards her Ph.D., she was one of four women in a doctoral program of ten students. She is one of few women admirals in the history of the United States Navy.

Hopper was deferred a year at Vassar College after failing a Latin Exam. During this year she became a boarding student at Hartridge School in Plainfield, New Jersey. The following fall she entered Vassar College at the age of seventeen. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa with a BA in Mathematics and Physics. In 1931 she joined the faculty at Vassar where her starting salary was $800. While teaching, Hopper continued her studies in Mathematics at Yale University where she earned an MA in 1930 and a Ph.D. in 1934. She continued teaching at Vassar until 1943 when she joined the United States Naval Reserve.

In 1930 at the age of 23 she married Vincent Foster Hopper. He was an honors graduate of Princeton University for his undergraduate degree and Masters. He later to receive his doctoral degree in Comparative literature at Columbia University. When they were married, he was an English instructor at New York University's School of Commerce. They separated in the early 1940's and were divorced in 1945, the same year he died. He was killed in World War II. They had no children.

After Pearl Harbor, Hopper decided to serve her country during World War II. In 1943 Hopper was sworn into the United States Navy Reserve. She was commissioned a Lieutenant (JG) and was ordered to the Bureau of Ordnance Computation Project at Harvard University. She became the first programmer on the Navy's Mark I computer. Hopper loved this 8 foot high, 8 foot wide gadget filled with relays, switches and vacuum tubes. Once, while working on Mark I, a group of admirals came to see the machine in action. Earlier that day, something failed and was causing the computer to shut down every several seconds. Hoppers quick thinking saved her and her staff some embarrassment. She leaned against the machine and kept her finger discreetly on the start button the whole time to keep the computer running. The Mark I made mistake after mistake but the admirals didn't notice. They left thinking they witnessed and error free run.

In 1946, when Hopper was released from active duty, she joined the Harvard Faculty at the Computation Laboratory where she continued her work on the Mark II and Mark III. She traced an error in the Mark II to a moth trapped in a relay, coining the term bug. This bug was carefully removed and taped to the log book. Stemming from the first bug, today we call errors or glitch's in a program a bug. In 1946 she joined the Eckert-Machly Computer Corporation (later called Sperry Rand). At Eckert-Machly she helped design the first commercial electronic computer called the UNIVAC. The UNIVAC operated a thousand times faster than the Mark I.

The computer industry changed drastically after she sponsored the development of COBOL (common-business-oriented-language). COBOL was the first language that allowed a programmer to speak to the computer with words rather than numbers. Hopper often joked "It really came about because I couldn't balance my checkbook.". In 1983 Hopper told Voice of America in an interview " Up until that time, computer programs had to be written either in assembly code, machine code, or there was one compiled for mathematical engineering problems. But I felt that more people should be able to use the computer and that they should be able to talk to it in plain English. And that was the beginning of COBOL.".

In most of her speeches, Hopper would often mention the importance of change. " I find it in general that human beings are allergic to change. They do not like change. They've learned something, they're perfectly satisfied doing it, and you come along and say, you're going to do it this way. People push it away. They are very naturally allergic to change." She was also famous for presenting a nanosecond. She would have a piece of wire, about a foot long, and explain that it represented a nanosecond, since it was the maximum distance electricity could travel in wire in one billionth of a second. She often would also show a coil of wire, nearly one thousand feet long, which represented a microsecond to encourage programmers not to waste even a microsecond. Admiral Hopper was also famous for a remark she made on television in 1983. She said " It is much easier to apologize that to get permission". She explains this in her interview with Voices of America "... I want them to go ahead and do it. I've seen that happen in the Navy. There was one young lieutenant junior grade, and he was ordered to a very small ship; the Navy thought it was too small to have a computer. He was in the administrative department so he took his own computer aboard with him. In a very short time he had the ship's records in his computer; he was getting all the reports out on time; everything was going beautifully. When he was transferred, the captain had to buy his computer as the ship could not run with out it any more. He didn't have to apologize. He did it.".

Amiral Hopper received many awards and honors for her accomplishments. She received the first computer sciences "man-of-the-year" award from the Data Processing Management Association in 1969. Other awards include the Navy Meritorious Service Medal, the Legion of Merit and the National Medal of Technology, awarded by President George Bush. She became the first person from the United States and the first woman of any nationality to be made a Distinguished Fellow of the British Computer Society. One of her major achievements that she worked her entire life for was retiring from the Navy as a Rear Admiral and the oldest serving officer at that time. She was the first woman to be awarded a Ph.D. in Mathematics from Yale University. In 1985, the Navy Regional Data Automation Center in San Diego, California dedicated a data processing facility in her name - The Grace Murray Hopper Service Center. There is also a Grace Murray Hopper Center for Computer Learning at Brewster Academy in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire. In addition, the Navy has named an Aegis Destroyer after Hopper- The Amazing Grace.

In 1986, at eighty, Grace Hopper retired from the Navy. A ceremony in her honor was held in Boston on the USS Constitution. In her retirement speech, Hopper focused on the future. "Our young people are the future. We must give them the positive leadership they're looking for... ". At the ceremony, Hopper was awarded the highest award given by the Department of Defense - the Defense Distinguished Service Medal. Retirement didn't slow Hopper down. Shortly after her retirement, Hopper became a Senior Consultant to Digital Equipment Corporation where she remained until about 18 months before her death. She did many of the same things as she did when she was in the Navy. She traveled on lecture tours around the country, speaking at engineering forums, colleges, universities passing on the message that managers shouldn't be afraid of change. Her favorite group to address was young people around the ages of 17 and 20. She believed they were fearless and that they question more than older people. She would often lecture to be innovative, open minded and give people the freedom to try new things.

Hopper dreamed of living to the age of 94. She wanted to be here December 31, 1999 to end the entire century in which she had lived through. Grace Hopper died in her sleep on New Years day, not in the year in which she wished but in 1992. Eight years short of the new century. She was laid to rest with full military honors in Arlington National Cemetery. Grace Hopper lived through an entire century of change this is why she always lectured not to fear change. Change is good. She spread her wisdom to as many people as her small body would let her. Grace Hopper has touched the lives of so many people. She is an icon for all women, young people and computer scientists of the world. Her insight and wisdom remains alive in all of us whom she touched.


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Quotation: "It's always easier to ask forgiveness than it is to get permission.".


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Biographical Publications:

Mompoul, Chantal. Voice of America: Interviews with 8 American Women of a Achievement. Washington D.C., 1983.

Billings, Charlene W. Grace Hopper: Navy Admiral and computer Pioneer. Hillside: Enlsow, 1989.

Compiler Patents

From comp.compilers

Newsgroups: comp.compilers
From: [email protected] (Robert Metzger)
Keywords: bibliography
Organization: Compilers Central
Date: Fri, 6 Sep 91 08:45:51 -0500

Here's a list of compiler patents you should know about. I do not claim
this list is exhaustive or without error. Consult a patent attorney if
you need to know how they impact you.

Complain to your Congressperson if you think patents are not the right way
to protect software as intellectual property. The alternatives are:
1) copyright the source
2) trade secret
3) no protection


Patent Number 4,821,181
Date of Patent Apr 11, 1989
Inventor K. Iwasawa, Y. Tanaka
Assignee Hitachi, Ltd.

Method for Converting a Source Program of High Level Language Statement into
Object Program for a Vector Processor

Patent Number 4,773,007
Date of Patent Sep 20, 1988
Inventor Y. Kanada, K. Isida
Assignee Hitachi, Ltd.

Compiler Code Optimization Method for a Source Program Having a First and
Second Array Definition and Use Statements in a Loop

Patent Number 4,833,606
Date of Patent May 23, 1989
Inventor K. Iwasawa, Y. Tanaka
Assignee Hitachi, Ltd.

Compiling Method for Vectorizing Multiple DO-Loops in Source Program


Patent Number 4,965,724
Date of Patent Oct 23, 1990
Inventor I. Utsumi, Y. Mori
Assignee Oki Electric Industry, Ltd.

Compiler System Using Reordering of Microoperations to Eliminate
Interlocked Instructions for Pipelined Processing of Assembler Source


Patent Number 4,710,872
Date of Patent Dec 1, 1987
Inventor R.G. Scarborough
Assignee International Business Machines Corporation

Method for Vectorizing and Executing on an SIMD Machine Outer Loops in the
Presence of Recurrent Inner Loops

Patent Number 4,656,583
Date of Patent April 7, 1987
Inventor M. Auslander, J. Cocke, P. Markstein
Assignee International Business Machines Corporation

Method for Improving Global Common Subexpression Elimination and Code
Motion in an Optimizing Compiler

Patent Number 4,885,684
Date of Patent Dec 5, 1989
Inventor E. Austin, J. Robertson
Assignee International Business Machines Corporation

Method for Compiling a Master Task Definition Data Set for Defining the
Logical Data Flow of a Distributed Processing Network

Patent Number 4,656,582
Date of Patent Apr 7, 1987
Inventor G. Chaitin, M. Hopkins, P. Markstein, H. Warren, Jr.
Assignee International Business Machines Corporation

Generating Storage Reference Instructions in an Optimizing Compiler

Patent Number 4,782,444
Date of Patent Nov 1, 1988
Inventor A. Munshi, K. Schimpf
Assignee International Business Machines Corporation

Compilation Using Two-Colored Pebbling Register Allocation Method Such
That Spill Code Amount is Invariant With Basic Block's Textual Ordering

Patent Number 4,434,753
Date of Patent Mar 6, 1984
Inventor J. Rizzi
Assignee International Business Machines Corporation

Register Allocation System Using Recursive Queueing During Source Code

Patent Number 4,567,574
Date of Patent Jan 28, 1986
Inventor H. Saade, W. Tindall
Assignee International Business Machines Corporation

Optimizing COBOL Object Code Instruction Path Length with respect to
PERFORM Statments


Robert Metzger, CONVEX Computer Corp., Richardson, Texas
[Patents are available on microfilm at most large libraries, or to get
paper copies you can send a check for $2/patent and a list of the numbers
you want to the Commissioner of Patents, Washington DC. -John]



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