Margaret Hamilton is an American computer scientist and systems engineer. She is often credited as one of the people that coined the term “software engineering”.
Although Margaret initially intended to study abstract math, she began her career in mid-1959 working in the meteorology department at MIT. A couple of years later, she was involved in a few U.S. Air Force projects that got her a position at NASA for the Apollo
Back at the Charles Stark Draper Laboratory at MIT, Hamilton led a team responsible with developing the software for the Apollo missions and Skylab
. Her multiple areas of expertise in software made her code incredibly reliable, helping programmers identify and fix issues before they became major problems. In 2016 she earned the Presidential Medal of Freedom
from president Barack Obama, for her work in the development of on-board flight software for NASA’s Apollo Moon missions.
At a time where software development was not regarded as a science nor was it taken seriously compared to other engineering, Hamilton made tremendous strides in legitimising software development as an engineering discipline. Together with other early programming pioneers like Grace Hopper
, she also deserves credit for helping to open the door for more women to enter and succeed in STEM fields.