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Homebulletgrey.gifeNewsletterbulletgrey.gifVolume 23bulletgrey.gifFirst Compiler

Who Developed the First Compiler?

Question: Who developed the first language compiler and when?

Answer: Rear Admiral Dr. Grace Murray Hopper, in 1949. The compiler, written in assembly language, converted symbolic mathematical code into machine code.

By 1949 programs contained mnemonics that were transformed into binary code instructions executable by the computer. Admiral Hopper and her team extended this improvement on binary code with the development of her first compiler, the A-O. The A-O series of compilers translated symbolic mathematical code into machine code, and allowed the specification of call numbers assigned to the collected programming routines stored on magnetic tape. One could then simply specify the call numbers of the desired routines and the computer would “find them on the tape, bring them over and do the additions. This was the first compiler,” she declared.

Source: http://www.cs.yale.edu/homes/tap/Files/hopper-story.html

Notable Quotes from Admiral Grace Murray Hopper, inventor of COBOL, and founder of early computer programming.

  • “Life was simple before World War II. After that, we had systems.”
  • “I seem to do a lot of retiring.”
  • “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.”
  • “Humans are allergic to change. They love to say, ‘We’ve always done it this way.’ I try to fight that. That’s why I have a clock on my wall that runs counter-clockwise.”
  • “A business’ accounts receivable file is much more important than its accounts payable file.”
  • “We’re flooding people with information. We need to feed it through a processor. A human must turn information into intelligence or knowledge. We’ve tended to forget that no computer will ever ask a new question.”
  • “You manage things, you lead people. We went overboard on management and forgot about leadership. It might help if we ran the MBAs out of Washington.”

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