Admiral Hopper, a senior consultant at Digital Equipment Corporation, is the first woman to receive America's highest technology award as an individual. The award recognizes her as a computer pioneer, who spent a half century helping keep America on the leading edge of high technology.
Jill S. Baylor, the president of the Society of Women Engineers who nominated the admiral, accepted the award on her behalf in a Rose Garden Ceremony. The 84-year-old Admiral was unable to attend the ceremony.
Admiral Hopper was one of 18 individuals to receive the 1991 National Medal of Technology, which is administered by the U.S. Department of Commerce's Technology Administration. The award has been presented annually since 1985 and reflects contributions to the economy, environment or social well-being of the United States.
Admiral Hopper retired in 1986 as the U.S. Navy's oldest officer on active duty and began a new career at age 79 at Digital Equipment Corporation. Her retirement ceremony took place aboard the USS Constitution, the Navy's oldest commissioned war ship.
Until recently, Admiral Hopper had been actively representing Digital at computer industry forums, making presentations on advanced computing concepts and the value of information and data, and serving as a corporation liaison with educational institutions.
At the time of her retirement from the Navy, Admiral Hopper was assigned to the Naval Data Automations Command in Washington, DC. Much of her military service was devoted to keeping the Navy on the leading edge of computer technology.
Admiral Hopper was born Grace Brewster Murray on December 9, 1906 in New York City. She began summering in Wolfeboro, N.H. with her family in 1907 and regards the town on the shores of Lake Winnipesaukee as her second home.
She is a 1928 graduate of Vassar College with Phi Beta Kappa and a Vassar College Fellowship. She continued her education at Yale University where she earned an MA in 1930, and PhD in 1934, together with election to Sigma Xi and two Sterling Scholarships. She also attended New York University as a Vassar Faculty Fellow in 1941.
In December 1943 she was sworn in and in May 1944, she joined the United States Naval Reserve and attended the USNR Midshipman School (W). After graduation she was commissioned a Lieutenant (JG) and ordered to the Bureau of Ordnance Computation Project at Harvard where she learned to program computers. In 1946, she was returned to inactive duty, but she continued to serve in the Naval Reserve and rose through the ranks retiring in December 1966 with the rank of Commander.
In August 1967, she was recalled to active duty, rose through the ranks, and was appointed on November 8, 1983 as Commodore. The title of that grade was changed to Rear Admiral on November 8, 1985.
During her career Admiral Hopper has taught at several colleges and universities, including Vassar, Barnard, Harvard, University of Pennsylvania, and George Washington University. She also worked as a senior mathematician at Eckert-Mauchly Computer Corporation in Philadelphia and helped program the UNIVAC I, the first commercial large-scale electronic computer. She remained with the compnay when it was bought by Remington Rand and later merged with Sperry Corporation.
At her retirement ceremony from the Navy, then Navy Secretary John F. Lehmann Jr. presented Admiral Hopper with the Distinguished Service Medal. More than 40 colleges and universities have conferred honorary degrees on Admiral Hopper, and she has been honored by her peers on several ocasions. She was the recipient of the first Computer Sciences "Man of the Year" award. Her entry in "Who's Who" takes 34 lines to thumbnail her accomplishments, appointments, and honors.
Digital Equipment Corporation, headquartered in Maynard, Massachusetts, is the leading worldwide supplier of networked computer systems, software and services. Digital pioneered and leads the industry in interactive, distributed and multi-vendor computing. Digital and its partners deliver the power to use the best integrated solutions -- from desktop to data center -- in open information environments.