Nanoseconds Associated with Grace Hopper

Description
This bundle consists of about one hundred pieces of plastic-coated wire, each about 30 cm (11.8 in) long. Each piece of wire represents the distance an electrical signal travels in a nanosecond, one billionth of a second. Grace Murray Hopper (1906–1992), a mathematician who became a naval officer and computer scientist during World War II, started distributing these wire "nanoseconds" in the late 1960s in order to demonstrate how designing smaller components would produce faster computers.
The "nanoseconds" in this bundle were among those Hopper brought with her to hand out to Smithsonian docents at a March 1985 lecture at NMAH. Later, as components shrank and computer speeds increased, Hopper used grains of pepper to represent the distance electricity traveled in a picosecond, one trillionth of a second (one thousandth of a nanosecond).
Reference: Kathleen Broome Williams, Grace Hopper: Admiral of the Cyber Sea, Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 2004.
Location
Currently not on view
Object Name
nanosecond
nanoseconds
date made
1985
distributor
Hopper, Grace Murray
Physical Description
plastic (overall material)
metal (overall material)
Measurements
overall: 1 cm x 32 cm x 8 cm; 13/32 in x 12 19/32 in x 3 5/32 in
ID Number
1985.3088.01
catalog number
1985.3088.01
nonaccession number
1985.3088
subject
Women Mathematicians
Computers & Business Machines
Mathematics
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Mathematics
Women Mathematicians
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
Collected-for-the-Museum
Additional Media

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