Margaret Heafield Hamilton

It was said that: “Margaret Hamilton led the team that developed the in-flight software for the Apollo missions. Man wouldn’t have set foot on the moon without her work.

Born in Paoli, Indiana, USA, in 1936, Margaret began her studies in in Mathematics at the University of Michigan in 1955. She followed this by briefly teaching high school mathematics to support her husband while he was working on his degree at Harvard, with her goal to complete a graduate degree later.

In 1960, Margaret took an interim position at MIT’s meteorology department to develop software for predicting weather at a time, as she explained, when computer science and software engineering were not taken seriously or regraded as a science. Later, she joined the Charles Stark Draper Laboratory, which was working on the Apollo space mission at MIT, and eventually led a team that was responsible for the development of software for Apollo and Skylab (the first space station operated by the USA).            

In 1986, at the age of 50, Margaret became the founder and CEO of Hamilton Technologies Inc., a system design and software development company. In the same year, she received her first award, the Augusta Ada Lovelace Award from the Association for Women in Computing.

Since then, her work and significant contribution have been acknowledged, and in 2016 she received from Barack Obama the highest civilian honour in the USA - the Presidential Medal of Freedom.            

Margaret Hamilton’s journey and achievements are incredible and inspirational in many ways: she played an essential role in putting humans on the moon; she took part in the writing of the code for the first portable computer; she assisted in the creation of the core principals in computer programming, she established herself as a prominent business women later in her life, and last but not least, she challenged the male-dominated area of technology, and paved with others the way for women to enter this field.