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Apollo 11 Moon Landing: One Giant Leap for Womankind

Updated: Nov 10, 2023

Margaret Hamilton, a 32-year-old mother and computer whiz at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, wrote the software that placed Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on the moon on 20 July 1969. She also worked on the five moon-landing missions that followed.

Margaret Hamilton, software engineer at NASA
Margaret Hamilton in 1995 | Wikipedia

The director of software engineering at MIT's Instrumentation Laboratory, Hamilton was a pioneer of computer science in a transformative era, and on a transformative mission, in human history.

Working in fields dominated by men, Hamilton - who was born in Indiana in 1936 - often had her toddler at her side as she wrote the code that changed mankind’s relationship with the heavens forever. She is also credited with coining the phrase "software engineer" - a job title now ubiquitous in business culture.

Yet Hamilton lived in the shadows of NASA lore for decades - her name and incredible role in one of humanity's greatest achievements known only to friends and Apollo program insiders.

"I was surprised to discover she was never formally recognized for her groundbreaking work," Dr. Paul Curto, senior technologist for NASA's Inventions and Contributions Board, said in 2003 when Hamilton was finally honored with a NASA Exceptional Space Act Award.

"Her concepts of asynchronous software, priority scheduling, end-to-end testing and man-in-the-loop decision capability, such as priority displays, became the foundation for ultra-reliable software design."


1 Comment

6 days ago

Today, as we push the boundaries of technology and exploration, we can draw parallels in software development. Utilizing tools like Kubernetes local development, developers can efficiently manage and scale applications, much like how meticulous planning and innovative technology were crucial for the Moon landing. This modern approach enables teams to achieve remarkable feats, reflecting the pioneering spirit of Apollo 11 in advancing both technology and gender equality in STEM fields.

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