Inspirational Quotes: Grace Hopper | Computer Scientist & U.S. Navy Rear Admiral

Grace HopperGrace Brewster Murray Hopper (1906-1992) was a computer pioneer and naval officer who  was best known for her trailblazing contributions to computer programming, software development, and the design and implementation of programming languages. 

Hopper earned a master's degree and PhD in mathematics from Yale in 1934. She joined the Naval Reserve in 1943 as a lieutenant and was assigned to the Bureau of Ordnance’s Computation Project at Harvard University, where she worked on Mark I, the first large-scale automatic calculator and a precursor of electronic computers. She remained at Harvard as a civilian research fellow while maintaining her naval career as a reservist.

In 1949, Hopper joined the Eckert-Mauchly Computer Corp, where she designed an improved compiler. Her division also developed Flow-Matic, the first English-language data-processing compiler. At the age of 79, she was the oldest officer on active U.S. naval duty when she retired in 1986.

In 1962, Hopper was elected a fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, was named the first computer science Man of the Year by the Data Processing Management Association (1969), and was awarded the National Medal of Technology (1991). She was also awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2016, 24 years after her death.

Below, we take a look at some of Grace Hopper's most inspirational quotes:


"A ship in port is safe, but that's not what ships are built for."

"The only phrase I've ever disliked is, 'Why, we've always done it that way.' I always tell young people, 'Go ahead and do it. You can always apologize later.'"

"One accurate measurement is worth a thousand expert opinions."

"Leadership is a two-way street, loyalty up and loyalty down. Respect for one's superiors; care for one's crew."

"I've always been more interested in the future than in the past."

"The glass is neither half empty nor half full. It's simply larger than it needs to be."

"If you do something once, people will call it an accident. If you do it twice, they call it a coincidence. But do it a third time and you've just proven a natural law!"

"In pioneer days they used oxen for heavy pulling, and when one ox couldn't budge a log, they didn't try to grow a larger ox. We shouldn't be trying for bigger computers, but for more systems of computers."

"Manage things. Lead people."

"We've tended to forget that no computer will ever ask a new question."

"If it isn't bolted down, bring it home."

"I will not take what you need to give me. I will take what you want to give me."

"To me programming is more than an important practical art. It is also a gigantic undertaking in the foundations of knowledge."