Margaret Hamilton

Margaret on the left with her hand-written code, and on right, the Lego figure inspired by her.

Born in 1936, Margaret Hamilton is the woman who gave us the term “software-engineer” and there are non more qualified than she to do this. In the picture she stands next to the hand written code she produced to safely guide and navigate the Apollo moon series of flights.

With software coding in its infancy her work was crucial to the astronauts safety, as evidenced towards the first landing.

Problems began when the computer was overloaded with commands from the rendezvous radar and the landing system, requiring more processing power than the computer could handle. With the radar running at 13% and the landing system at 90%, something had to give. Fortunately, Hamilton had programmed the computer to prioritise tasks according to importance not sequence. When the priority displays posed a go/no-go decision to the astronauts—to land or not land on the moon—the astronauts said “Go.”

And the rest as they say, is history. She has been awarded the Nasa Exceptional Space Act Award (2003) and the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Barack Obama (2016)

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