The Computer Program That Helped NASA Land on the Moon Is Full of Jokes
Computer programmers aren’t generally known for their roaring senses of humor, but a newly rediscovered piece of space history suggests that maybe they should be. Last week, former NASA intern Chris Garry uploaded the Apollo 11 flight source code to GitHub, revealing a legendary piece of flight software—and a whole bunch of jokes and topical 1960s references therein.
The Apollo Guidance Computer source code was created by programmers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Alongside its commands are plain-English explanations, which is where the funny comes in. After Garry posted the code, the internet set to work examining every line. (It has actually been online elsewhere since 2003, when tech researcher Ron Burkey first transcribed it from the original hard-copy transcripts.)
Paired with the code that helped NASA astronauts navigate the moon landing are file names like "BURN_BABY_BURN," which, as ABC News reports, is actually a reference to DJ Magnificent Montague and the Black Power movement. Other comments include "HELLO THERE," "GOODBYE. COME AGAIN SOON," and file names like "PINBALL_GAME_BUTTONS_AND_LIGHTS."
Another Easter egg comes in the form of a Shakespeare quote:
We'll let you try to figure out what it all means. The entire source code is available for viewing over at GitHub.
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