O/T: Grace Hopper

Those of you not involved with computers will wonder what made Admiral Hopper worthy of a Google day. I had the very great privilege of meeting and talking to her several times. She's worth a Google month at least.
This was one heck of a person back when women were supposed to be housewives. The Wikipedia page gives details:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grace_Hopper#UNIVAC
but aside from its mention of "Amazing Grace" it's full of facts and not of feelings.
She was already in her 60s when I met her. My first impression was how alive she was. Full of energy and extremely intelligent. Also one heck of a nice person. She was more proud of her navy career than of her computer accomplishments. IIRC, her father was also in the Navy.
The Google animation ends with a moth flying out of the computer. Grace has the honor of discovering the very first computer "bug", a moth that created a short. The fried carcass was taped into the log book for the day :-).
I met her at computer society meetings and various conventions. Often I was the only other person around that had worked on Univac (software, not hardware) so it was easy to get a conversation going - when she wasn't surrounded by younger admirers.
The article mentions her famous "nanoseconds" - I've still got one of those somewhere. It didn't mention that she also hauled around a microsecond - about 1000 feet of wire. She joked that the phone company wouldn't give her enough wire for a millisecond.
When she finally retired for good, they held the ceremony on "Old Ironsides".
I could probably keep this up for another page or two, but suffice it to say I can't remember anyone who impressed me as much as Grace Hopper. She was the epitome of "one of a kind".
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On 12/9/2013 12:40 PM, Larry Blanchard wrote:
Thanks for posting this.

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On 10/12/2013 1:43 PM, j wrote:

Aye, indeed!
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On 12/9/2013 9:40 AM, Larry Blanchard wrote:

Amen. A very special icon in the world of CS. She understood the process of software from understanding the problem through picking (or designing) software to cope with the problem and finally to selecting the hardware to host the software. I spoke with her all too briefly just once. I will never forget.     mahalo,     jo4hn
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On 12/9/2013 11:40 AM, Larry Blanchard wrote:

Very cool. Thanks for posting.
On a similar note, I'm almost finished rereading, on my iPad Kindle Reader "Where Wizards Stay Up Late". Wasn't all that impressed the first time, but glad I took the time to read it again ... something deeply cool in reading, once again, about that historical time on a modern device.
My very favorite book on computers and the early culture was Tracy Kidder's "Soul of A New Machine". Far from being on the bleeding edge now, I'll never forget the sense of excitement of those times, having been a miniscule part of it as an early embracer of computer technology ... including FidoNet, modem to modem application development, and early corporate Ethernet LAN's.
And it more than pisses me off to see the "open" concept it once was, now subverted by the likes of Google, Microsoft, FaceBook, et al, in the pursuit of farkin' _advertising_ revenue.
Once again, thanks for posting.
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On Tue, 10 Dec 2013 10:20:15 -0600, Swingman wrote:

A favorite story:
I was working at Hughes Aircraft in 1965-66 when they got their new GE635 running Multics (the anti-inspiration for Unix). The multi-tasking was a little flaky. If you submitted a job the source listing came out on one printer, the link map on another, and the results on a third. Completely random. The operators hated rooting through stacks of paper to reassemble each and every job :-).
I've got a lot of stories of early computing. One of these days I'll have to write them down.
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On 12/9/2013 9:40 AM, Larry Blanchard wrote:

Yes Sir....a first class act. I got to see her speak in Atlanta about 200 years ago. I remember being amazed that a woman had done some damn much with very little recognition.
You didn't mention the word I sort of expected....COBOL
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On Tue, 10 Dec 2013 14:25:13 -0800, Pat Barber wrote:

Actually, I would have mentioned CODASYL first, since I've always been fascinated by DBMS's. Even wrote one in Fortran using B+ trees. The CODASYL network model still makes a lot of sense, and Grace was on that committee.
BTW, I got to talking to either Date or Codd (memory is the 2nd thing to go) at the NCC where they introduced their relational model and they pointed out that it was just the user interface. They were still planning on using the network model underneath.
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On Tue, 10 Dec 2013 14:25:13 -0800, Pat Barber wrote:
In looking around for CODASYL data, I found there's a book on Grace:
Grace Hopper: Admiral of the Cyber Sea
I'll have to get that one - anybody read it?
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On 12/9/2013 11:40 AM, Larry Blanchard wrote:

...

While taking nothing away from Admiral Hopper, being on the scientific/engineering computing side rather than business, John Backus and FORTRAN was far more influential in the arena of my experience followed probably most closely by Seymour Cray ( and the CDC-6600).
I never had an opportunity to see any DG machines except from afar...by the time left the mainframe organizations, the VAX/VMS was nearly ubiquitous and then my career path went the other extreme of embedded micros for quite a long period before the PC then became powerful-enough to be of real use for anything beyond word processing w/ the AT-class...
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On 12/11/2013 10:03 AM, Mike Marlow wrote:

And even before the CDC, there was the Philco 2000 (that had direct experience on, that is). All the Bettis Lab nuclear design codes written for the Navy were originally only available for the Philco. These codes were the basis for the commercial reactor vendors' (B&W, W, CE, GE) light-water design tools modified to fit particular designs. My first job out out of uni was to first learn to run these codes with facility and then begin upgrading and extending them for specific features and additional computations not in the originals.
When Philco didn't have the resources to keep up in the high-performance-computing arena, Bettis went to CDC and all the vendors subsequently followed as there were no alternatives other than a complete independent rewrite/port to some other machine which just wasn't feasible option.
<http://archive.computerhistory.org/resources/access/text/2010/09/102646276-05-01-acc.pdf
The B&W installation included 27(! count'em :) ) 7-track tape drives--great fun for the operators to keep up with, and only slightly less for writing code to keep track of which cross-section set was where during the multi-group to few-group reduction...
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On Wed, 11 Dec 2013 11:03:44 -0500, "Mike Marlow"

So any of you folks remember Gandalf Data? Was working there on data sets, Pacx and so on. Then along came the PC and the whole backbone of Gandalfs busines model went KABOOM!
But I did learn how to be an electronic tech, and discovered an inate ability to troubleshoot. It is nice when people pay you to play.
Mark
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Markem wrote:

I remember someone in education referring to that thing (modem) sitting next to the keyboard and monitors (no, not a PC) as a "gandalf"! After all, that's how it was labeled! : )

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Bill wrote:

She said, "There should be a red or green light flashing on The Gandalf"!

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On 12/11/2013 1:49 PM, Markem wrote: ...

...
No, can't say as had ever even heard of it 'til now. That would have been my period into embedded or standalone micros mostly it appears when rarely ever saw anything bigger than a 6809 or just maybe for really, really big stuff a 68000. The "monster" was a VME-bus 3-processor 68k system--two on the remote vehicle and another for the operator command station for a man-replacement mobile robotic handler system for commercial nuclear plant applications for Remotec.
On a similar communications path to near obsolescence at a later time, my son went to work as sales engineer for Hummingbird in boom times for the Exceed connectivity package when he finished uni. Went great guns for a few years...
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On Wed, 11 Dec 2013 11:03:44 -0500, Mike Marlow wrote:

And then there was SCADA - supervisory control and data acquisition. Often just called process control. I got into that by accident and got involved in all sorts of strange but interesting projects.
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"Larry Blanchard" wrote:

------------------------------------------------------ The true SCADA required dedicated phone lines which made it very expensive.
As a result most SCADA systems were found on things like waste water, potable water, etc systems usually in major metro markets.
We represented a Canadian company that had developed a dial-up mini SCADA that would monitor just a few points. (From memory about 8)
First developed to monitor small isolated installations in the Canadian boonies, we had success selling units to monitor waste water lift stations all over the place.
A response to an off normal situation within a couple of minutes was adequate and a major improvement.
The result was a very cost effective solution.
Lew
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On Thu, 12 Dec 2013 01:13:17 -0500, Mike Marlow wrote:

Never got to Marshall, but did some work with Modcomp computers at NASA Edwards. Got a real kick out of sitting in a shuttle cockpit mockup and playing with the controls to check my software.
Weirdest job was instrumenting squid nerve cells to test the effect of various drugs on nerve function. Squid nerve cells are huge, relatively speaking.
And I never finished high school!
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I too met her. I was doing a trade show in Virginia Beach for a Navy comput er show in the 80's. I was at some booth (not my companies) and I was disc ussing the benefits of my company's software (a database company - largest one in the world at the moment) and she appeared out the blue discussing ha rdware databases.
I tried to counter act her arguments and I was tongue tied. She was exactly like she appeared. I should have asked for an autograph. I was sorry I mis sed the opportunity, but it remains fresh in my mind as if it were yesterda y.
What a great woman, sailor, scientist and computer pioneer.
MJ
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