2004 MAPLD International Conference
Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center
September 8-10, 2004
MIT Instrumentation Laboratory
2004 MAPLD Presentation
Eldon Hall grew up in Oregon, and completed his AB in Mathematics at Eastern Nazarene College in western Massachusetts. From there he went on to complete an AM in Physics at Boston University and much of a PhD in Physics from Harvard. Hired by the MIT Instrumentation Laboratory in 1952, he first worked on random processes in control systems, then became interested in the emerging field of digital computing in the early 1950s. After working with other MIT/IL engineers to develop analog-to-digital conversions for guidance systems, Hall was responsible for encouraging the Navy to use digital guidance computers in the Polaris missile project. He worked on the development of the digital guidance system for Polaris, being promoted to group leader and forming the Digital Development Group at MIT/IL in the process. After the first successful flight of Polaris in 1960, his group was well placed to begin work on the Apollo Guidance Computer when MIT/Il was awarded the contract in 1961.
Eldon Hall was leader of the hardware design effort throughout the development of the AGC, and pioneered the use of integrated circuits (ICs) in this design. He had been interested in this technology from a very early stage in its development, spending time with both Jack Kirby at Texas Instruments and Robert Noyce at Fairchild Semiconductor in the late 1950s and early 1960s. In 1962, Hall convinced NASA the ICs were the appropriate technology with which to build the AGC. Hall continued to lead the AGC design effort until 1969 when the project began to scale back. He contiuned to work for MIT/IL through that institution's spinoff from MIT to become Charles Stark Draper Laboratory. He retired in 1988 to write Journey to the Moon, his history of the Apollo Guidance Computer.
Eldon Hall is a member of the AGC project advisory board and has participated in all of the AGC history conferences.
Eldon Hall, The Apollo Moon Mission Guidance Computer, Inventor, receiving The George R. Stibitz Computer Pioneer Award, at the American Computer Museum, 1997.
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