Margaret Hamilton

On November 22, 2016, President Barack Obama awarded Margaret Hamilton the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the USA's highest civilian honor, at age 80 for her contribution that led to Apollo 11's successful landing. The very first contract NASA issued for the Apollo program (in August 1961) was with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to develop the guidance and navigation system for the Apollo spacecraft. Hamilton, a computer programmer, would wind up leading the Software Engineering Division of the MIT Instrumentation Laboratory (now Draper Labs). She headed the team that developed the building blocks of "software engineering" – a term that she coined. Her systems approach to the Apollo software development and insistence on rigorous testing was critical to the success of Apollo. As she noted, “There was no second chance. We all knew that.” (Pictured here with a pile of the Apollo Guidance Computer source code. Photo from the @mitmuseum)