Margaret Hamilton: Resource Guide

President Barack Obama presents the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Margaret H. Hamilton during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House, Nov. 22, 2016. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

Brief Biography

Margaret Hamilton–not to be confused with the Wicked Witch of the West–studied mathematics at the University of Michigan before earning a B.A. in mathematics from Earlham College in 1958.

Her initial work as at MIT where she worked on computer software that could predict weather systems, which was later developed to track enemy aircraft during the Cold War.

While at MIT, she joined the Charles Stark Draper Laboratory which was working on the Apollo Space mission. Her teams were responsible for developing flight software, error detection, and recovery. Ultimately, Hamilton’s team (along with others) were credited with developing software for both Apollo and Skylab.

Hamilton later went on to create her own company: Hamilton Technologies.

Margaret Hamilton Books for Kids

Margaret and the Moon
Publisher Description:
A true story from one of the Women of NASA!

Margaret Hamilton loved numbers as a young girl. She knew how many miles it was to the moon (and how many back). She loved studying algebra and geometry and calculus and using math to solve problems in the outside world.

Soon math led her to MIT and then to helping NASA put a man on the moon! She handwrote code that would allow the spacecraft’s computer to solve any problems it might encounter. Apollo 8. Apollo 9. Apollo 10. Apollo 11. Without her code, none of those missions could have been completed.

Author: Dean Robbins

Age Range: 4-8 years old and up

Grade Level Preschool and up



Margaret Hamilton Quotes

What they used to do when you came into this organization as a beginner, was to assign you this program which nobody was able to ever figure out or get to run. When I was the beginner they gave it to me as well. And what had happened was it was tricky programming, and the person who wrote it took delight in the fact that all of his comments were in Greek and Latin. So I was assigned this program and I actually got it to work. It even printed out its answers in Latin and Greek. I was the first one to get it to work.

Found in: 

Conference Presentation

Importance: 

This demonstrated Hamilton’s ingenuity and fundamental understanding of software. This accomplishment, in some part, lead to her addition to the Apollo development team.

Margaret Hamilton Achievements List

Margaret Hamilton Facts

  • Coined the term software engineering in order to emphasize its comparable importance relative to other engineering disciplines
  • She and her team’s “asynchronous executive” approach to developing Apollo’s operating system may ahev single-handedly allowed the mission’s landing objective to be completed.

Learn More

Useful Links

Wired
Time Article
Vox article

About Brian 69 Articles

Brian is an engineer, librarian, and general STEM enthusiast who hopes his daughter one day conquers the world. Even if it is just one of her own creation.

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