Response: “Her Code Got Humans on the Moon”

In addition to the multitude of lessons to be learnt from her brief history, Hamilton’s story is also incredibly inspiring. As a spaceship programmer in the sixties, she was quite literally one of a kind, and she was undoubtedly extraordinary as she completely revolutionized and transformed the potential of technology and software all the while navigating a male-dominated industry. This article made me realize the way technology can immensely improve and become more complex yet at the same time also become more simplified- in the span of a few decades. Back then, during Hamilton’s time, programming a spaceship meant punching holes in stacks of punch cards and threading copper wires through magnetic rings- and the computers processing these “words” or commands could only store and compute at a very limited level and speed. Today, this notion has been completely transformed, and programming has become transformed into a series of more “simplified” languages that a computer can understand, with many more options and larger capacities for data storage and computing speeds. To me, reading about the early stages of programming and software building is fascinating but also wildly incomprehensible. How do you encode data on a spaceship using something as “raw” as hole-punched cards? This may be an oversimplification of the process, but it is a question I often found myself asking. I also thought there was a valuable lesson to be learned about testing and troubleshooting from the Appolo 8 flight, what we may think “would never happen” can very much end up happening, and this can be applied all the way from large ventures such as spaceship flights bringing humans to the moon, to smaller-scale projects like our weekly class assignments.

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