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Margaret Hamilton

The Woman Who Put The Man on the Moon

The volumes were filled with handwritten code for NASA, the very same code that was responsible for safely landing people on the moon.

Neil Armstrong might not have taken his moon walk on July 20, 1969 were it not for a former high school teacher named Margaret Hamilton.

Three minutes before the Apollo 11 lunar lander Eagle reached the surface of the moon, computer alarms went off. The landing would have been aborted had Hamilton not anticipated the problem and created software to solve it.

Margaret Heafiled Hamilton; was 33 when she wrote the code for NASA in 1969. At the time, she was also the Director of the Software Engineering Division of the MIT Instrumentation Laboratory. NASA, anxious to win the space race, called on her to create ?the onboard flight software needed to land on the moon.? She was selected as team leader and tasked with making the Apollo missions successful.

This wasn?t just a cool job placement for a woman. In 1969, Software Engineering didn?t exist ? she actually coined the term while making it a reality. Hamilton raised the bar even higher by helping her team create ultra-reliable software. She developed priority displays that allowed the software to interrupt astronauts in an emergency so that ?they could reconfigure in real-time.? Hamilton debugged and tested every aspect of her work prior to assembly. Before signing off on the code, she ?simulated every conceivable situation at the systems level to identify potential problems.?

?There was no second chance. We all knew that,? Hamilton said. ?We took our work very seriously, but we were young, many of us in our 20s. Coming up with 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; no time to be beginners.?

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More problems for wog ball

The wog ball scandals keep on coming, with US authorities examining whether effective bribes passed between Fifa-linked bodies and US commercial partners in breach of Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

US securities regulators are examining the behaviour of several companies with links to Fifa or other soccer bodies caught up in a major global corruption scandal to see if there were possible violations of US federal bribery laws, according to a report.

The civil probe was in its early stages and may or may not lead to any findings of wrongdoing or enforcement action, said the Reuters news agency, citing an unnamed official who described an investigation being carried out by the US?Securities and Exchange Commission.

Separately, the head of Bolivia?s soccer federation, Carlos Chavez, has been arrested on charges of corruption in the management of finances related to the sport, according to that country?s public prosecutor.

US and Swiss authorities are conducting a wide-ranging investigation into bribery involving soccer officials, marketing executives and various companies. In late May the US indicted nine soccer officials ? most of whom held positions at Fifa ? and five executives for a range of offences related to more than $150m of alleged bribes and kickbacks. ? Read more »