Code it, compile it

The first computers were controlled by programs made of 1s and 0s: saying that switches should be on or off at different times. These programs were difficult to write without making mistakes.

Grace Hopper, of the US Navy, was one of the first programmers of the first computers. She realised you could write a program in a language closer to English getting rid of those pesky 1s and 0s. The idea of the ‘high level programming language’ was born.

All you would need to make it work was to write a special program, now called a ‘compiler’. A compiler just acts as a translator. It translates high level programs back into  a program made of 1s and 0s.

Grace not only came up with the idea she also showed it worked by inventing a high level language and writing a compiler for it.

Lesson from the past: do what’s easy, let the computer do the rest

More history →

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