Jack Garman graduated from the University of Michigan in 1966 with a degree in Engineering Physics and Computing. He immediately went to work for NASA in the Flight Support Division at Johnson Space Center (then the Manned Spacecraft Center) until 1986. While working there, he was partnered with MIT’s Instrumentation Lab on the Apollo Guidance Computer and supervised the development and testing of the GNC.
Garman was responsible for making the split second call to continue Apollo 11’s landing when the 1202 alarms sounded. He knew the alarms so well because he asked for simulation testing and memorized what every error code meant just months before the launch. As Garman later recounted, "Gene Kranz, who was the real hero of that whole episode, said, 'No, no, no. I want you all to write down every single possible computer alarm that can possibly go wrong." Garman made a handwritten list of every computer alarm code that could occur along with the correct reaction to each of them and put it under the plexiglass on his desk. Thanks to him, the Apollo 11 mission continued and landed the first man on the moon.
Garman retired from NASA in 2000 after returning to work at the Johnson Space Center in 1988 and taking over as as the Chief Information Officer in 1994. He remained a contractor for NASA until 2010. He received many awards from NASA, including two exceptional service medals, one of which was for his decision on Apollo 11. He also received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1970 for Apollo 13.