Inspiring Stories

Margaret Hamilton-the woman whose code took man to the moon.

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Written by Rapture Godson

This is a story of Margaret Hamilton and how she changed the way we see and handle technology today!

For those of you especially programmers that don’t know Margaret Hamilton, you must have seen the photo below of a young  Margaret Hamilton standing next to a pile of books that contain the code that she and her MIT colleagues created that safely landed Apollo 11 on the Moon.

But first,

Do you have a clue of how programming was in its early days?

Have you ever thought of how possible it was to write a code that could take man to the moon?

In fact, you won’t imagine it was written by hand by a woman in her early thirties.

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Margaret Hamilton standing next to a pile of books.

What a beautiful smile on her face, yet she did the tedious job of writing all the codes by hand for the onboard guidance software, which made it possible for Astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin to safely land on the moon instead of aborting their mission entirely.

In spite of her hard work and effort of writing the code that landed man safely on the moon in the age where computer science was at its birth, she remained among the women not recognized for her endeavors that helped send a man to the moon.

Hamilton was so passionate about her work that she would bring her daughter Lauren that was 4-year old to the lab on weekends and evenings.

She would then program, creating routines that would ultimately be added to the Apollo’s command module computer.
Finally, at the age of 80, she was awarded by US President – Barack Obama, the highest United States’ civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
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Photo of Margaret Hamilton receiving her Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama.

You can see Bill Gates who was also a recipient of the award applauding  Margaret Hamilton.
President Obama said this as he awarded Margaret Hamilton,

“Our astronauts didn’t have much time, but thankfully they had Margaret Hamilton”

Obama was indeed right as she had the foresight of including a code that enabled the computer to prioritize commands when overloaded with tasks. Smart of her right?

This ensured the success of Apollo 11 as the computer could differentiate alarms that could have made Nasa abort the mission and those that could make them relax.

That is to say, She prevented Nasa from having a false alarm during the mission.

A great help was this to NASA as when a mispositioned radar hardware switch triggered the alarm, NASA did not need to abort the mission due to the ingenuity of  Margaret Hamilton.

Hamilton and her MIT colleagues wrote the code for the world’s first portable computer.

Please, where ever you are, applaud for this great Indiana-born mathematician and software developer.

Indeed, she is a great inspiration to me. A woman that programmed in hexadecimal and binary, learned software engineering when it was not yet a field.

She did something that dominated among males and did it perfectly. There were no Youtube tutorials yet she pulled through.

PHOTOS OF MARGARET HAMILTON.

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Margaret Hamilton at MIT Lincoln Laboratory in 1962

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Rapture Godson

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