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Margaret Hamilton: The Woman Who Wrote the Software That Put Man on the Moon | Christie’s

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We speak to Margaret Hamilton, the pioneering software engineer whose work helped Neil Armstrong make his giant leap and changed the world of computing.

In August 1961, computer programmer Margaret Hamilton had just turned 25 when NASA issued its very first contract for the Apollo programme. The 10-page contract was with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and covered the development of the guidance and navigation system for the Apollo spacecraft.

Computer science was in its infancy in the early ’60s and, according to an interview in Wired, Hamilton was one of the few experts in systems programming. ‘When I first got into it, nobody knew what it was that we were doing,’ she told the magazine. ‘It was like the Wild West. There was no course in it. They didn’t teach it.’

By 1965, Hamilton was working for the SAGE Project at Lincoln Labs, where she had been writing software to search for Russian aircraft and preparing to begin a PhD in mathematics at Brandeis University. When she heard that MIT was hiring people to work on the Moon mission, it was an opportunity she could not pass up.

Everything was new and there were many breakthroughs. ‘On Apollo, we realised that what we were doing was different than just coding,’ says Hamilton. ‘As time went on, we learned more and more about putting together code for a whole system with many pieces: software to software, software to hardware, and software to human-ware — the astronauts.’

Find out more: https://www.christies.com/features/Software-pioneer-Margaret-Hamilton-on-Apollo-11-9947-3.aspx?sc_lang=en#FID-9947

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