Kathleen Broome Williams looks at Hopper's entire naval career, from the time she joined the WAVES and was sent in 1943 to work on the Mark I computer at Harvard, where she became one of the country's first computer programmers. Thanks to this early Navy introduction to computing, the author explains, Hopper had a distinguished civilian career in commercial computing after the war, gaining fame for her part in the creation of COBOL.
The admiral's Navy days were far from over, however, and Williams tells how Hopper--already past retirement age--was recalled to active duty at the Pentagon in 1967 to standardize computerprogramming languages for Navy computers. Her temporary appointment lasted for nineteen years while she standardized COBOL for the entire department of defense. Based on extensive interviews with colleagues and family and on archival material never before examined, this biography not only illuminates Hopper's pioneering accomplishments in a field that came to be dominated by men, but provides a fascinating overview of computing from its beginnings in World War II to the late 1980s.