Mrs. Holberton was born in Philadelphia,the daughter and granddaughter of astronomers, who encouraged her ability in mathematics. During WWII Holberton was recruited with 80 other female mathemeticians by the Army to compute ballistic trajectories by hand, work which could take up to 30 hours to solve. In 1937 Holberton was recruited with 6 other women to program the top-secret ENIAC project, where she took responsibility in he central unit that directed program sequences.
After the war, when women were going back home to start families, Mrs. Holberton stayed to program the ENIAC for the company that eventually became Unisys, writing payroll, inventory and other business applications. She developed the first sorting route and wrote a sort-generator application that allowed for customized programs.
While working at David Taylor and the National Bureau of Standards, she served with committees that created COBOL (Common Business Oriented Language), wrote standards for FORTRAN (Formula Translation) and set other national and international computer standards. She retired from the bureau, now the National Institute of Standards and Technology, in the 1983.