The Computer That Put Men on the Moon

Chris Higgins
YouTube / rsa008
YouTube / rsa008 / YouTube / rsa008

Here's a fun way to spend your lunch break today -- watch a whole episode of Moon Machines about MIT's development of the Apollo Guidance Computer, an impressive beast that got astronauts to the moon and back...with roughly 2k of RAM and weighing in at just 70 pounds. It's just technical enough to be fun for nerds, but not so technical that you need a degree in Computer Science to enjoy it.

Around the 22:00 mark, there's an apparent technical error -- the narrator confuses ROM with flash storage -- but the ensuing discussion of rope memory (a form of hand-assembled ROM used by the AGC, pictured above) is pretty great. The drama around 38:00 (the infamous 1202 Program Alarm) is also a really fun moment: system overload in a multitasking operating system leads to high drama! Enjoy: