This 1965 MIT 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.
We embark on the restoration of a very rare and historically significant machine: the Apollo Guidance Computer, or AGC. It was the revolutionary MIT-designed computer aboard Apollo that brought man on the Moon (and back!). Mike Stewart, space engineer extraordinaire and living AGC encyclopedia, spearheads this restoration effort. In this first episode, we setup a makeshift lab in his hotel room, somewhere in Houston. The computer belongs to a delightful private collector, Jimmie Loocke, who has generously allowed us to dive in the guts of his precious machine, with the hope of restoring it to full functionality by July 2019, the anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon Landing.
The Apollo Guidance Computer ran at just over 2 MHz and had roughly 4 Kb of RAM, and weighed around 65 pounds. An iPhone 4 has a 1 GHz processor and 512 Mb of RAM, fits in your pocket, and weighs just under 140 grams.
Or to put it another way, what you have in your pocket is 500 times faster, has over 128,000 times as much memory, and is under 1/300th the weight of what got the astronauts to the moon.
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