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Published on Oct 2, 2014
Recorded June 10, 1982
This is a two-part talk that chronicles the design of the Apollo Guidance Computer (AGC), the custom-made space borne navigation system that first guided men to the Moon in July of 1969. Part I covers the design of the AGC and features Apollo Guidance Computer lead designer Eldon Hall. Part II tells the AGC story from the astronaut’s point of view, with Apollo 9 and 15 pilot commander David Scott.
Part One This talk, by Apollo Guidance Computer (AGC) designer Eldon Hall, Hall begins by briefly looking back at the US Navy’s Polaris missile program, the state of the computer industry in the early 1960s, and the Apollo mission requirements themselves and how these multiple factors influenced the design of the AGC.
As Hall points out, there were no major technological breakthroughs required to build the AGC; the project’s goal was essentially one of miniaturization. Fortunately for the AGC team, integrated circuits were becoming available, enabling them to dramatically reduce the size of the AGC from about six refrigerator-sized cabinets to a single box, about 1 cubic foot in size and weighing 70 lbs. In fact, the AGC program was the first large-scale use of integrated circuits anywhere.
Hall details the story of AGC development and covers the differences between the Block I and II AGCs and the design and use of the DSKY – The Display Keyboard, which was the interface to the computer for the astronauts