Margaret Hamilton, her name is Margaret Hamilton

March 09, 2023

Margaret Hamilton is awesome. As appropriate, the classic photo of her has been circulated again.

This year, I have also seen a colour version of the photo - here, for example. Apparently versions with different colours exist, but I like how it makes the image feel more recent and alive.

But, who wrote the attached description text?

What is your problem with it?

This is what the text says:

"Margaret Hamilton, NASA's lead developer for the Apollo program, standing next to all the code she wrote by hand that took humanity to the moon in 1969."

And this is what Wikipedia says:

"Hamilton in 1969, standing next to listings of the software she and her MIT team produced for the Apollo project"

We can all agree that the differences are nitpicky details, and in no way diminish the accomplishments. But why not get the details right?! I feel it demonstrates a lack of care by the writer, and that diminishes the writer in my eyes. It is not hard to read up on the photo and find more verification of Wikipedia's caption, so why did the writer not do that? I suspect they took the Wikipedia version and made changes they thought sounded better.

Celebrate Hamilton and all other amazing women in the world, and also step up your damn writing game. At least when you write about someone who thought and cared so deeply about her own discipline that she came up with the term software engineering in the process.

(I have to bite my tongue, repeatedly, to not go into those details. But they are not the point of this.)