MAKERS Profile

Margaret Hamilton

NASA's First Software Engineer

In this video

Margaret Hamilton talks about her career becoming NASA's first software engineer and creating the software that launched the Apollo 11 first manned mission to the moon.

Meet Margaret H. Hamilton, the woman who led man to the moon. On July 20th, 1969, minutes before Apollo 11's scheduled touch-down, there was a computer error that would have changed history had it not been for Margaret's programming that overrode the glitch and ultimately made "one small step for man, and a giant leap for mankind" a reality.

A self-taught programmer who rose to the top of the Software Engineering division at MIT, Hamilton developed the building blocks for (and even coined the term) software engineering.

On November 22nd, 2016, President Barack Obama awarded Margaret Hamilton the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor, for her invaluable contributions to modern technology and science as we know it.

More From Margaret

Math and Philosophy
Margaret Hamilton reminisces her strong relationship with her father, and how their common interests inspired her study.

Landing on the Moon
Margaret Hamilton shares her experience during the landing of Apollo 11 on the moon where she was in mission control room operating software - and celebrating.

The Biggest Compliment
Margaret Hamilton shares her fond memories of discussions with colleagues and being called a "megalomaniac" by her land manager.

If Something Should Go Wrong
Margaret Hamilton talks about the responsibility that came with being one of the first computer programmers hired by NASA.

If It Wasn't Fair
Margaret Hamilton discusses her frustration when she first discovered that women were being paid less and not getting promoted.

The First Hackers
Margaret Hamilton shares the story of when, while working on a math project in college, her computer stopped working and how many believe she may have caught the first computer hackers.