From IEEE Milestones Wiki

To see comments, or add a comment to this discussion, click here.

Docket #:2020-16

This proposal has been submitted for review.

To the proposer’s knowledge, is this achievement subject to litigation? No

Is the achievement you are proposing more than 25 years old? Yes

Is the achievement you are proposing within IEEE’s designated fields as defined by IEEE Bylaw I-104.11, namely: Engineering, Computer Sciences and Information Technology, Physical Sciences, Biological and Medical Sciences, Mathematics, Technical Communications, Education, Management, and Law and Policy. Yes

Did the achievement provide a meaningful benefit for humanity? Yes

Was it of at least regional importance? Yes

Has an IEEE Organizational Unit agreed to pay for the milestone plaque(s)? Yes

Has an IEEE Organizational Unit agreed to arrange the dedication ceremony? Yes

Has the IEEE Section in which the milestone is located agreed to take responsibility for the plaque after it is dedicated? Yes

Has the owner of the site agreed to have it designated as an IEEE Milestone? Yes

Year or range of years in which the achievement occurred:

1949 -1959

Title of the proposed milestone:

The Compiler 1952

Plaque citation summarizing the achievement and its significance:

IEEE MILESTONE IN COMPUTER ENGINEERING & COMPUTER SCIENCE Citation The Milestone for the invention of the Compiler The first Compiler was invented in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA, in 1952. This compiler translated human-readable English keywords or commands into machine-readable instructions or code thus creating well-defined communication between human programmers and computers. The compiler Flow-Matic system for UNIVAC shaped the creation of COBOL, a major programming language, which formed the basis for the commercial multi-billion-dollar IT infrastructure and industry.

In what IEEE section(s) does it reside?

IEEE Philadelphia Section

IEEE Organizational Unit(s) which have agreed to sponsor the Milestone:

IEEE Organizational Unit(s) paying for milestone plaque(s):

Unit: IEEE Philadelphia Section, IEEE Women in Engineering Committee, IEEE WIE Region 2, and IEEE WIE Affinity Groups of Philadelphia and South New Jersey
Senior Officer Name: Chair Emilio M. Salgueiro

IEEE Organizational Unit(s) arranging the dedication ceremony:

Unit: IEEE Philadelphia Milestone Committee
Senior Officer Name: Kathleen McDevitt, Chair

Unit: IEEE Philadelphia Women in Engineering Affinity Group
Senior Officer Name: Nannette D'Imperio

IEEE section(s) monitoring the plaque(s):

IEEE Section: IEEE Philadelphia Section
IEEE Section Chair name: Emilio M. Salgueiro

Milestone proposer(s):

Proposer name: Kathleen M. McDevitt
Proposer email: Proposer's email masked to public

Please note: your email address and contact information will be masked on the website for privacy reasons. Only IEEE History Center Staff will be able to view the email address.

Street address(es) and GPS coordinates of the intended milestone plaque site(s):

GPS to be added200 South 33rd Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104, GPS Latitude: 39.95239 - Longitude: -75.190489

Describe briefly the intended site(s) of the milestone plaque(s). The intended site(s) must have a direct connection with the achievement (e.g. where developed, invented, tested, demonstrated, installed, or operated, etc.). A museum where a device or example of the technology is displayed, or the university where the inventor studied, are not, in themselves, sufficient connection for a milestone plaque.

Please give the address(es) of the plaque site(s) (GPS coordinates if you have them). Also please give the details of the mounting, i.e. on the outside of the building, in the ground floor entrance hall, on a plinth on the grounds, etc. If visitors to the plaque site will need to go through security, or make an appointment, please give the contact information visitors will need. After the invention of the ENIAC at University of Penn, Eckert-Mauchly Computer Corporation (EMCC) was formed in 1946. By 1949, EMCC was brought out by Remington Rand and John Mauchly hired Grace M. Hopper. The compiler was invented in 1952 at 3747 Ridge Avenue, East Falls, Philadelphia, PA. Shortly afterwards, the company moved to 1900 Allegany Avenue. In 1955, Remington Rand merged with Sperry Rand. In 1957, The Sperry Rand Company used the Compiler (The Flow-Matic) in UNIVAC, the first open market computer. Many of the same people who worked on the ENIAC were hired from the Moore Engineering School of the University of Pennsylvania. They worked on the UNIVAC using the first Compiler, invented by Grace M. Hopper. It is important to note that COBOL, the later result of the compiler, became well known computer language and used till this day. It was promoted by many lecturers at University of Pennsylvania, universities across the country and internationally by Grace M. Hopper. She educated her pupils on the early history of computers, the compiler, and their importance to society. Eventually, Sperry Rand merged with the business machine company, Burroughs. Today the company is UNISYS. University of Pennsylvania, Moore Engineering school is where the compiler Milestone will be placed. It is located at 200 South 33rd Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104, GPS Latitude: 39.95239 - Longitude: -75.190489. It is in a very busy area with much walking traffic. It is safe, with visibility, and security. UNISYS is the caretaker for this history of early computing at this University’s Moore Engineering School. The two buildings still exist in areas that are not safe. They are not an option for a Milestone to be placed there. East Falls area in Philadelphia is going through extensive renovation which gives hope to someday honoring these locations.

Are the original buildings extant?


Details of the plaque mounting:

The mounting will be on the inside of the lobby.

How is the site protected/secured, and in what ways is it accessible to the public?

It is a secure location by security cameras and campus security guards. It is open seven days a week.

Who is the present owner of the site(s)?

University of Pennsylvania

What is the historical significance of the work (its technological, scientific, or social importance)?

The historical significance of the compiler is the importance of how it affected the modern computer: A compiler is a computer program that translates computer code written in one programming language into another language. The name compiler is primarily used for programs that translate source code from a high-level programming language to a lower-level language to create an executable program.

What obstacles (technical, political, geographic) needed to be overcome?

Grace M. Hopper's biggest obstacle in promoting the compiler was convincing her superiors and co-workers that the compiler would work technically to improve the programing from 010101 to the English language or any language. The politics of convincing an all-male audience took two years for acceptance.

What features set this work apart from similar achievements?

The feature that set this work apart from similar achievements is it was the missing link in programing. Grace M. Hopper created an executable program that translated source code into any language such as English.

Supporting texts and citations to establish the dates, location, and importance of the achievement: Minimum of five (5), but as many as needed to support the milestone, such as patents, contemporary newspaper articles, journal articles, or chapters in scholarly books. 'Scholarly' is defined as peer-reviewed, with references, and published. You must supply the texts or excerpts themselves, not just the references. At least one of the references must be from a scholarly book or journal article. All supporting materials must be in English, or accompanied by an English translation.

  See references in specific responses

Supporting materials (supported formats: GIF, JPEG, PNG, PDF, DOC): All supporting materials must be in English, or if not in English, accompanied by an English translation. You must supply the texts or excerpts themselves, not just the references. For documents that are copyright-encumbered, or which you do not have rights to post, email the documents themselves to Please see the Milestone Program Guidelines for more information.

Please email a jpeg or PDF a letter in English, or with English translation, from the site owner(s) giving permission to place IEEE milestone plaque on the property, and a letter (or forwarded email) from the appropriate Section Chair supporting the Milestone application to with the subject line "Attention: Milestone Administrator." Note that there are multiple texts of the letter depending on whether an IEEE organizational unit other than the section will be paying for the plaque(s).