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Grace Hopper and Tim Berners-Lee illustration

Technology Takedown:
Grace Hopper vs. Tim Berners-Lee

June 5, 2017

By TEKsystems

Tim Berners-Lee : Creator of the World Wide Web

In 1989 Tim Berners-Lee gave life to the World Wide Web, which many people simply call “the internet.” While the internet had actually existed for decades, Berners-Lee’s creation of a shared language and protocol for identifying sites made it widely accessible.

A software engineer for a nuclear research agency, Berners-Lee wanted to create a better way for scientists to share information and collaborate. He created HTML and developed the first web browser. He also advocated for his organization, CERN, to forego charging royalties for using the language, a critical step in popularizing the web.

Today Berners-Lee directs the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), which develops and advocates for open web standards. He has received multiple international awards, including the Turing Prize and a knightship from Queen Elizabeth. The awards surely have merit, as Berners-Lee's actions helped usher in a wave of unprecedented wave of innovation. Plus, how else would we be able to browse Amazon at 1 a.m. and impulsively buy stegosaurus costumes for our dogs? 

Fun fact: Berners-Lee now admits the forward slashes in website addresses were unnecessary. 

Grace Hopper: COBOL trailblazer

“A ship in port is safe; but that is not what ships are built for. Sail out to sea and do new things.”

Grace Hopper authored this quote and followed it throughout her fascinating life. The trailblazer earned her mathematics PhD from Yale University—in 1934. She joined the U.S. Naval Reserve during World War II and became a programmer on a 10,000-pound mechanical computer at Harvard University.

Hopper is called the Mother of Computing for her work in developing a compiler to translate mathematical code into a language, which was the precursor to COBOL, the first computer language. If you work in programming—and don’t wish to program in 1s and 0s—you owe a debt to Hopper.

Hopper rejoined the Navy at 60 years old to help standardize communication between different computer languages. She retired from the Navy at age 79 as the oldest serving officer but continued to work in the computer industry for years after.

Fun fact: Legend has it Hopper popularized (but didn't coin) the word “debugging" after a moth shorted out a computer in her lab.

Technology Takedown continues

Who made a bigger impact on technology, Hopper or Berners-Lee? It's an impossible choice but you must decide! VOTE now.

Love reading about tech heroes? Check out our recent Takedowns: 

Alan Turing vs. Ada Lovelace

Curiosity Rover vs. the electric car


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