Grace Hopper

(1906 – 1992)

Portrait of Grace Hopper by Jack Kamen

Jack Kamen Artwork

Grace Hopper was an American mathematician and rear admiral in the US Navy. Before she enlisted in the Navy, Hopper taught at Vassar College and became the first woman to earn a Ph.D. in mathematics from Yale University in 1934. Hopper was at the forefront of computer programming and computer languages.

Joining the War Effort

As World War II began, Hopper wanted to join the war effort. At age 34, and weighing only 105 pounds, she was not eligible for military enlistment. She persisted, received an exemption and joined the Navy, serving until age 79. She helped to develop Mark I, the first commercial electronic computer. After a moth entered the circuits of Mark I, she coined the term “bug” to refer to unexplained computer failures.

Explore Additional Portraits in the Collection

George Washington Carver

Nicola Tesla

These portraits were commissioned by Dean Kamen for the SEE Science Center.  The artist is Jack Kamen (1920-2008), an American graphic artist and Dean’s father. The series was created to inspire children through the stories of scientists and engineers whose work changed the world.  While many of the pieces represent men, the duo worked hard to identify female scientists.  Had Jack not passed, their goal was to continue to increase representation within the collection.  The original artwork is on display at the SEE Science Center in the Jack Kamen Portrait Gallery.