In 1971, 65-year-old computer scientist Grace Hopper was retired by the Univac Division of the Sperry-Rand Corp., now known as Unisys Corp., after 22 years with the company. With her guidance and expertise, the Philadelphia-based com- puter manufacturer had built the first large-scale electronic computer.

Fifteen years later, in August 1986, Hopper was retired again, this time by the United States Navy's Naval Data Automation Command, in which she had held the rank of admiral as well as the distinction of being the oldest naval officer on active duty. Less than a month later, Hopper, then 79, initiated her third and current career as a full-time senior consultant with Massachusetts-based Digital Equipment Corp., one of the world's largest computer companies, which also happens to have no mandatory retirement age.

Today, at 83, Hopper has a history of retirements, yet she has never gone a day in her working life without...

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