This computer made history – and you’ve never heard about it

Look at your microwave. It has more brain power than the computer that flew Apollo astronauts to the moon. Nonetheless, we are not bound to see microwaves flying spaceships anytime soon. The comparison is to show you how engineers and programmers made use of the little they had back in the 1960s.

This computer continues to affect our everyday life. NASA knew just how hard it would be to control the speed, motions, to make the math that would control the Apollo and how fast the calculations ought to be. Before building rockets, spacesuits or spaceships, engineers and programmers were tasked with designing an Apollo guidance computer. This came days after President John F. Kennedy challenged Americans to go to the moon.

In the Instrumentation Lab, Charles Stark Draper helmed the project. He was regarded as a genius. The lab had a stellar 20-year history of creating sophisticated navigation systems. It was the lab that built the first submarine to navigate the North Pole. As such, NASA concluded that the lab would deliver on the project.

Back then, small computers were the size of fridges, but Apollo’s needed a tiny computer. Additionally, it needed to work instantly and in real time. And the computer ought to have a keyboard and a display unlike conventional computers of those days.

As such, MIT was on the verge of creating the most nimble, portable, and most reliable computer. Besides, it would have to be tested in some of the most challenging situations, such as running a plant. The Apollo computers had two fundamental abilities, decision making and restart in an eyelash in case it shuts down or there is an interruption.

The whole process took a whopping eight years, and the MIT did deliver. They created a computer that had 73 kB memory, small enough, and during the 100 days in space, it experienced no glitch or software error.



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