More On the Apollo Guidance Computer from 1965

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MIT TechTV

Earlier this week I brought you a 2008 documentary about the computer that put men on the moon -- the "Apollo Guidance Computer," or AGC. Today, let's look at a 1965 documentary about that same computer, shot at MIT. According to MIT TechTV:

This 1965 “Science Reporter” television program features the Apollo guidance computer and navigation equipment, which involve less than 60 lbs of microcircuits and memory cores. Scientists and engineers Eldon Hall, Ramon Alonzo and Albert Hopkins (of the MIT Instrumentation Laboratory) and Jack Poundstone (Raytheon Space Division in Waltham MA) explain and demonstrate key features of the instruments, and detail project challenges such as controlling the trajectory of the spacecraft, the operation of the onboard telescope, and the computer construction and its memory. The program was presented by MIT in association with WGBH-TV Boston, and hosted by MIT reporter John Fitch; it was produced for NASA. MIT Museum Collections. [MIT Museum Cat. # UNNUMBERED-650)

For an on-the-ground view of what this computer really looked like in the 1960s, check this out. It's amazing, and has a bit of a Lost DHARMA Initiative film vibe. The segment about 25 minutes in (about making the wire-wrap boards) is particularly intense, as you realize just how difficult it was to make something so complex with the available technology. The block diagram shown around 10 minutes in is also remarkable, partly because of the lengths the presenter goes to to explain how computers work at all.

You can actually download the documentary for free direct from MIT (download links on the right). The audio in the MIT version is a bit better.

(Via Kottke.)

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August 25, 2013 - 9:00am
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