Mission Control's Big Display
November 19, 2020 9:43 AM   Subscribe

 
Wow I've never ever thought about this. It feels like technology was so much more chaotic before we had LCD screens. Projecting an image into an oil bath that is being mechanically wiped clean every frame... etc.
posted by macrael at 10:10 AM on November 19 [4 favorites]


We basically went to the moon way before we had any right to, technologically. We wanted to do it so bad that just sheer willpower powered through little things like "reasonable displays and computers and really anything else haven't been invented yet, really".
posted by dmd at 10:21 AM on November 19 [6 favorites]


Mindblowing.
posted by glonous keming at 10:32 AM on November 19


Man, if only Russia were today tackling climate change as some kind of political dick size thing. Instead, it's China.
posted by seanmpuckett at 10:35 AM on November 19 [2 favorites]


This is fantastic! I was actually thinking of posting an Askme question about these as I haven't been able to find much of anything about them. The etch-a-sketch like system that could do the moving lines is ingenious.
posted by jonathanhughes at 10:36 AM on November 19 [1 favorite]


This was fascinating. And totally bananas.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 10:54 AM on November 19 [1 favorite]


Wacky old display technologies are totally my thing and I love Fran and her videos.

She finds some really cool things to mess around with like Bina-View modules, mission control pushbuttons, and NIMO tubes.
posted by JoeZydeco at 11:44 AM on November 19 [5 favorites]


Wow, that's a blast from the past! I started my career in the 80's working on trajectory software that powered some of those green MCC consoles. I got to go back in the "bat cave" a few times during some simulations just to see how things worked. Being a mere software guy, I remember being gobsmacked when I first learned how the ground tracks that we calculated ended up on the "big board" in the FCR. Thanks for this post!
posted by cross_impact at 11:50 AM on November 19 [10 favorites]


What a delightful channel, I am so glad to have been shown this.
posted by Wretch729 at 11:53 AM on November 19 [1 favorite]


I knew that the "Big Board" was a mechanical system, but had no idea just how complicated the whole thing was and how massive the behind-the-screen setup was. Mission Control was the very model of "The Future" when I was a little kid watching the space flights, and now it seems so elaborate and almost Victorian in its execution.
posted by briank at 12:07 PM on November 19 [3 favorites]


Mission Control was the very model of "The Future" when I was a little kid watching the space flights, and now it seems so elaborate and almost Victorian in its execution.

New Frontier in the front, Steampunk in the back.
posted by mikelieman at 12:33 PM on November 19 [9 favorites]


"Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!" It's a good reminder that even now, in a technological age where the space behind the curtain has been made literally microscopic, there's always somebody behind the curtain.
posted by rikschell at 1:18 PM on November 19


I've never seen most of those stills before of the beautiful, saturated graphics and learning a little bit about how they were made makes it that much better!
posted by a halcyon day at 5:03 PM on November 19


I have to wonder if anything survives of that system, even if it was just tumbled into some obscure basement or the like. (Or dumped in a locked yard someplace outside to rust.) And what about those metal on glass slides? I cannot believe some of these didn't make it into someone's pocket.

And if nothing truly survives, then it's so sad.
posted by Insert Clever Name Here at 5:32 PM on November 19


It's Fran, again!

(I love her so much!)
posted by maudlin at 5:33 PM on November 19 [4 favorites]


When I started work where I am now there was a theatre with a Talaria projector. Everyone seemed vaguely terrified of it.

In the late 90s I worked on an outdoor event and there were screens with images provided by a gigantic projector. The image was about the best I’ve ever seen. It turned out the projector was built by Hughes Aerospace for the big screens at NORAD.
posted by the duck by the oboe at 2:00 AM on November 20 [1 favorite]


That is amazing. I'm just a tiny bit disappointed that no trained squirrels were involved.
posted by kleinsteradikaleminderheit at 3:37 AM on November 20 [1 favorite]


What a delightful channel, I am so glad to have been shown this.

For Holiday for Strings alone, ditto.
But that's not all!
posted by y2karl at 5:15 AM on November 20


Insane. I assume they had special slides for abort modes, and probably used them during Apollo 13.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 5:38 AM on November 20


Wow, the fact that I've never encountered Fran Blanche before, despite spending way too much time on Space YouTube, tells you just how terrible the YouTube recommendation algorithm is. That theme tune!
posted by rhamphorhynchus at 8:08 AM on November 21


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