Dr. J. Halcombe "Hal" Laning Jr. (born 14 February 1920 in Kansas City, Missouri) was a Massachusetts Institute of Technology computer pioneer who in 1952 invented an algebraic compiler called George (also known as the Laning and Zierler system after the authors of the published paper) that ran on the MIT Whirlwind, the first real-time computer. He later became a key contributor to the 1960s race to the moon, with pioneering work on space-based guidance systems for the Apollo moon missions. From 1955 to 1980, he was deputy associate director of the MIT Instrumentation Lab.
In 1956 he published the book Random Processes in Automatic Control (McGraw-Hill Series on Control System Engineering), with Richard Battin as a coauthor.
In collaboration with Phil Hankins and Charlie Werner of MIT, he initiated work on MAC (MIT Algebraic Compiler), an algebraic programming language for the IBM 650, which was completed by early spring of 1958.
Dr. Laning received his PhD from MIT in 1947 with a dissertation titled "Mathematical Theory of Lubrication-Type Flow". His undergraduate degree in Chemical Engineering (1940) was also from MIT.
He was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 1983 for his work in aerospace engineering, particularly his "unique pioneering achievements in missile guidance and computer science -- the Q-guidance system for Thor and Polaris [missiles] and George". He is also an honorary member of the American Mathematical Society.