The Apollo Guidance Computer: Architecture and Operation

Frank O'Brien
Infoage Science/History Learning Center

Abstract

Perhaps the single spacecraft component that assured the success of the Apollo lunar missions was its guidance computer. Created in the 1960's when most computers filled an entire room, the Apollo Guidance Computer (AGC) was small, low power, and included capabilities that are advanced by today's standards.  The Infoage Science and Learning Center has acquired an early AGC as part of its History of Computing Technologies collection. We will be discussing the computers hardware and software architecture, interfaces and how designers overcame its limitations. Additionally, we will cover the user interface and operations required for a flight from the Earth to the Moon. Attendees will get the opportunity to examine the AGC, its components and review its source code.

 

Biography

Frank O'Brien is a volunteer Apollo historian for NASA, primarily as a researcher for the Apollo Lunar Surface Journal, and is co-editor of the Apollo Flight Journal. He was responsible for preparing the Lunar Module Simulator and other artifacts for exhibition at the Cradle of Aviation Museum (Long Island, NY), and is an associate director at the Infoage Science and Learning Center.

 

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