Mainframe Trailblazer Trivia

This month at Planet Mainframe the focus is on Talent and Training, so here at Trivia Challenge we’re going to test your knowledge of a few mainframe trailblazers.

The first person we’re looking at is the formidable Rear Admiral Grace Hopper. Born in 1906, Hopper’s life spanned most of the twentieth century, and it’s hard to overstate her impact on the development of computer technology.

She was mathematically brilliant, a gifted teacher, and incredibly innovative. Importantly, she also had the grit to create a space for herself within almost entirely male-dominated organizations – including the military, Ivy League universities, and the world of business.

There’s a lot more to say about Grace Hopper than we can fit on this page, but take the quiz to get a sense of the broad outlines of her contributions:

1. After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Hopper decided to join the war effort. She was initially rejected by the Navy because of her:


2. After receiving her commission in the U.S. Naval Reserve (Women’s Reserve), Hopper was assigned to the Bureau of Ships Computation Project at Harvard University. There, she joined a team working on the first electromechanical computer in the United States. The name of this computer was:


3. Hopper turned down a full professorship at Vassar in favor of working as a research fellow under a Navy contract at Harvard. But at the end of her three-year term as a research fellow, she left Harvard because:


4. In 1949, Hopper became an employee of the Eckert–Mauchly Computer Corporation as a senior mathematician. She joined the team developing the first general-purpose electronic digital computer design for business applications produced in the US. This computer was called:


5. In 1952 she developed the first compiler, which translated mathematical code into machine-readable code—an important step toward creating modern programming languages. What was this called?


6. In 1953, Hopper proposed the idea of writing programs in words, rather than symbols. How was this idea received?


7. She continued working on an English-language compiler, and in 1956 her team was running the first programming language to use word commands. What was the name of this programming language?


8. Hopper took part in CODASYL, the goal of which was to develop a common business language that could be used across industries and sectors. The finished product was COBOL, which was introduced in what year?


9. At what age did Hopper finally retire from the Navy as a rear admiral?


10. Which of the following honors was conferred on Grace Hopper?


Sonja Soderlund is an Oregon-based B2B freelance writer. Whether writing about mainframe computers, educational technology, or sustainable retail, she strives to bring clarity to complex issues. Connect with her at or LinkedIn.

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