‘Will you walk with me Grasshopper?’ asked Po in the legendary cult Martial Arts series Kung-Fu, starring the almost-as-legendary David Carradine. The term ‘Grasshopper’ refers to a novice, a greenhorn, a student/disciple, a subordinate, or just simply ignorant. Someone who’s learning the ropes and needs that staple of virtually all movies – the master. You know the sort: the teacher, the-wise-old–seen-it-done-it-bought-the-T-shirt type person. Like Mr Miyagi, Yoda, disgruntled Korean War veteran Walt Kowalski in the Clint Eastwood classic Gran Torino, the spectral ancestry in Disney’s Mulan. George Lucas’ Jedi pass on their wisdom to the Padawan – the movie formula we all know and love in which the battle hardened veteran passes on knowledge to the next generation of talent.
The Grace-Hopper-grasshopper connection
If the IT Industry was a made into a formulaic action movie – one of the glow-in-the-dark ancestors today’s IT grasshoppers would seek guidance from was also a war veteran. Despite being female and 793 years younger than Yoda, ‘amazing’ Grace was a rear Admiral in the US Navy, who’s birthday was ‘celebrated’ with a google-doodle this year!
Why this level of reverence from the grasshoppers? Because of her legacy – a legacy which thrives today. COBOL remains portable, scalable, debuggable, easy to learn and is still the preferred language of business for the vast majority of the global Fortune 100. Grace’s guiding principles remain intact – and we all still rely on it on a daily basis! Ask yourselves which technologies born today are likely to be thriving in 55 years time? Once you’ve counted your answers candidly on one finger I am sure you’ll agree that COBOL and its founding-mother is an amazing story that deserves some telling.
The circle is now complete
It’s certainly not going to be an action movie, or feature any fluorescent ghosts to guide the heroes. So what has inspired the makers and why now? Just like COBOL it’s a very easy thing to understand – according to Born with Curiosity Director, Melissa Pierce: “Steve Jobs had 8 films made about him, with another in pre-production! Without Grace Hopper, Steve might have been a door–to-door calculator salesman! Even with that fact, there isn’t one documentary about Grace and her legacy. It’s time to change that.”
It certainly is time – so how can we all help?
Get curious about the movie and help get it started – yes that does mean put your hand in your pocket and donate some of your hard earned dollars. But It’s not all one way traffic and you’ll get something back for your efforts in the shape of a perk related to your level of contribution.
Like the hundreds of people who’ve already weighed-in, I think it’s vital to help mark the legacy of a woman – who despite all the odds – made such a lasting contribution to Information Technology and society as whole. So dig deep and let’s get this intimate look at computer pioneer Amazing Grace and the impact she had on the history of computer programming into today’s cultural program.
Melissa, the ‘Born with Curiosity’ team, and everyone in IT from the legends through to the grasshoppers, will be extremely grateful.