notarichman
it was NOT the first computer using ICs. in the air force i used a computer with 10k memory before that and there was computers in use way before the one i used with ICs.
BobL
The AGC also saved Apollo 13: the decision to use the exact same computer in the LM as the Command Module meant that the LM could handle navigation when the Command Module had to be shut down.
BobMunck
in 1966, "software" was a new word and many computer professionals had trouble understanding the concept.
Hey, I was a "computer professional" back then, working at Brown and MIT's Tech Square, and everyone I ran into knew what software was. Remember, IBM was selling the System/360 line in those days; we weren't doing computing by the light of oil lamps.
Also, "rope memory" wasn't all that uncommon; we micro-coded an Interdata Mod 3 that way to emulate an IBM 2250 Display.
Things were primitive enough; there's no need to exaggerate.
Signguy
It's strange; the moon is 1/4 the size of earth, yet in the first picture here, the earth is the same size as the moon?!
PAV
Fascinating
RavioliShankar
This is a good article and I enjoyed reading it, but written as it is for today's audiences, it suffices to hit the high points without really getting into the details. The illustrations are well chosen and the article does a good job for its intended audience.
My father worked at MIT during the latter part of the time period in question. He saw these machines in person and knew many of the people directly responsible for their design, programming, construction and testing. He didn't work on them himself, he was a field engineer for IBM supporting various other computing resources at MIT, but it was an amazing endeavor.
If anything the author understates its importance in enabling Americans to land on the moon before the Soviets, who could not accomplish the same feats of miniaturization. Thus they were stuck with the problem of not having a guidance computer like this one as their spacecraft lost line-of-sight telemetry during its pass around the dark side of the moon. We needed this computer in the spacecraft. If you look at the burns you can see where they took place, and having the guidance computer on-board was crucial. The Wikipedia entry on the AGC is also quite good with a lot of footnotes.
EZ
Someone please explain how the astronauts made it through the Van Allen belts without a scratch. Twice, in fact. Also, why are they having so much trouble getting a landing craft to work and designing safeguards for new humans to get through the Van Allen belts. Just curious.
joe46
"try to imagine getting to the Moon using a Commodore 64 to handle the navigation" well they managed to do so several times so whats the problem now ? they can borrow my smart phone if they want, that should do it. I'll even load an app "moon nav" LOL
npublici
I guess the actual first use of ICs is still top secret! This isn't the first article to confuse the issue. With the military,often you never really learn the truth.
RoGuE_StreaK
@EZ, they just went as fast as they could through the least dense part of the outer belt (you can avoid the inner one), reducing exposure time. And the craft was shielded. Not "without a scratch", but nothing more than a couple of medical scans.