Apollo software engineer gets Medal of Freedom

In November 2016, President Barack Obama gave the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Margaret Hamilton, who was director of the Software Engineering Division of the MIT Instrumentation Lab in the 1960s. Her team was responsible for the development of the Apollo Guidance Computer software. Margaret is a pioneer in software development/engineering, this is a well-deserved recognition.

Quote from Margaret Hamilton:
“From my own perspective, the software experience itself (designing it, developing it, evolving it, watching it perform and learning from it for future systems) was at least as exciting as the events surrounding the mission. … There was no second chance. We knew that. We took our work seriously, many of us beginning this journey while still in our 20s. Coming up with solutions and new ideas was an adventure. Dedication and commitment were a given. Mutual respect was across the board. Because software was a mystery, a black box, upper management gave us total freedom and trust. We had to find a way and we did. Looking back, we were the luckiest people in the world; there was no choice but to be pioneers.”


  • ABC News – video of presentation
  • MIT News – Announcement of award, short bio
  • MIT News – Brief history of photo of Margaret Hamilton standing next to printouts of Apollo Guidance Computer software
  • MIT News – Reminiscences 40 years after Apollo 11
  • Quartz – Article on Apollo Guidance Computer software
  • Github – Original Apollo 11 Guidance Computer (AGC) source code for the command and lunar modules.