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2016 Newsmakers of the Year: A Pair Of Legendary Coders

In addition to Melinda Gates, Margaret H. Hamilton (shown below) and Rear Admiral Grace Hopper (left) were also bestowed with the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Obama last month. Hamilton, a computer scientist who started her own software company, led the team that created the onboard flight software for NASA’s Apollo command modules and lunar modules. According to the White House, “Hamilton contributed to concepts of asynchronous software, priority scheduling and priority displays, and human-in-the-loop decision capability, which set the foundation for modern, ultra-reliable software design and engineering.”

Hopper, who was known as the “first lady of software,” was awarded the medal posthumously for her work in making coding languages more practical and accessible. According to the White House, Hopper created the first compiler, which translates source code from one language into another. In addition to teaching at Vassar College, she served as a lieutenant (junior grade) in the U.S. Naval Reserve during World War II, where she became one of the first programmers of the Harvard Mark I computer.

See the rest of the 2016 Newsmakers of the Year.