Anniversary of an amazingly enduring design

Wes wrote:


Most of the current computer tech. was driven by the oil, automotive and commercial/military aircraft industries not to mention your friendly weatherman.
--
John R. Carroll



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And that is the truth. I know a guy that was a draftsman when they were designing the recovery parachute for the space shuttle boosters. I told him about Kevlar which was new at the time. When he suggested that they consider kevlar for part of the recovery parachute, they refused to consider it because there was no mil spec for kevlar at the time.
The launch computers for the Apollo program were RCA 110A's. Developed by RCA for controlling oil well drilling rigs but modified by adding more memory.
Dan
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I OWNED the last launch control computer for the Apollo program. It was a Systems Engineering Labs 840A (SEL-840).
24-bit cpu about the size of a new Honda FIT, all based on ECL and very early TTL with about two ICs per circuit board, and a backplane that had about 200 sq ft total area across several hinged panels.
10K words of core memory, ASR-33 output and high-speed optical paper tape input, two 800bpi reel-to-reel vacuum column tape drives and one mostrous 1MB 19"x 5platter disk drive (total capacity of 1MB<G>, but at least removable media!)
Cost me $400 at auction, and a 27-foot UHaul JH to move it. (filled the truck, too!)
LLoyd
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Lloyd E. Sponenburgh wrote:

"Systems Engineering Laboratories was founded in Fort Lauderdale, Florida in 1958 by nine engineers from Radiation, Inc., of Melbourne, Florida, at the beginning of the breakout of minicomputers from 16-bit to larger architectures. Their original product was based on a patent for sampling low-level analog signals. A number of data acquisition and control systems (which included no computers) were built for NASA installations."
That's from Wiki.
--
John R. Carroll



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Hmmm... that's odd. I bought it at the cape at an auction. It was specifically listed as "Apollo launch control 'system'".
I can assure you it wasn't a data-acquisition system. It really was a full-up computer.
LLoyd
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Lloyd E. Sponenburgh wrote:

You probably got the whole mess from all of the suppliers. Cool toy!
--
John R. Carroll



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It was. It had experienced a "power supply catastrophe", which in NASA parlance is, "it got smoked".
A friend and I got it working, learning a HELL of a lot in the practice, then sold it off for gold (70u plating on ALL 200K+ pins!!) and over 3 tons of aluminum. Traded off the working tape drives for other "cool toys" of the time.
LLoyd
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All wire-wrap. Big 0.15 x .032 pins, too. Not the .025 Augat style.
LLoyd
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On 4/8/2010 1:31 PM, Lloyd E. Sponenburgh wrote:

Long, long ago I worked for EAI, a manufacturer of analog/hybrid simulation computers. EAI was one of SEL's best customers (many EAI computers used SELs for the digital piece). I can state that EAI shipped many computers to NASA, and some of those computers contained SEL machines. A SEL 32/55 was in the first computer (that I am aware of) sold to China by a US company. It was a dual console 7800 system, similar to the moon landing simulator. As a DoS condition of the sale, we had to use an obsolete digital (the 32/55) and lengthen the access times on the hard disks. The computer was sold for "design of electric motors and agricultural purposes". It was delivered to Harbin, next to the air base.
Kevin Gallimore
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On 2010-04-08, Lloyd E. Sponenburgh <lloydspinsidemindspring.com> wrote:

    Having worked for an Army R&D lab for many years, I have seen many computers described as "data acquisition controllers" and other similar things when if you called it a "computer", you would have to go through reams of extra documentation and justification -- and *still* might not get it.
    IIRC -- there was even an IBM 360 acquired under some masking nomenclature.
    NASA was government, and probably had to deal with similar problems. :-)
    Enjoy,         DoN.
--
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On Apr 8, 1:31pm, "Lloyd E. Sponenburgh" <lloydspinsidemindspring.com> wrote:

I have no doubt that it was a full up computer. And can easily believe it was sold as an " Apollo launch control ' system ' ". But the RCA 110A computers were the launch computers. They had no integrated circuits and were bigger at least physically. They were also 24 bit machines. As I recall they had 8 banks of 8K words.
Dan
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snipped-for-privacy@krl.org wrote:

The big push for computers came from IBM and payroll processing long before the space program.
--
John R. Carroll



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-0500 typed in rec.crafts.metalworking the following:

    Possibly, but some things have been driven by civilian application - computers is one area. Carbon Fibers? I suspect that a lot of technologies got a big boost from the government "investment" in them. I'm also sure a lot of data freely available to a private space program was first worked up by NASA in the moon race project.     And let us not forget, that determining that something _won't_ work, is just as useful as merely determining what will work.
tschus pyotr - pyotr filipivich We will drink no whiskey before its nine. It's eight fifty eight. Close enough!
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Regulations my ass. In the present state of disfunction, if the current president proposed it, the Republicans would do everything in their power to block it, and if the last president had proposed it, the Democrats would do everything in their power to block it. The country can't get sh*t done because blocking the other side has become more important than doing anything useful, to both sides, and any third side remains too small to do anything useful.
And Nth to the "without the moon program (or more properly, 60's aerospace in general) most of the toys that make things faster/easier today would not exist." The Air Force & DARPA (or some DARPA ancestor) had a huge amount to do with the development of CNC machining, from what I have read. Much more to make airfoils/spars than spacecraft.
--
Cats, coffee, chocolate...vices to live by

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Ecnerwal wrote: >

Yeah, that constitutional thing about "checks and balances" is a bitch, ain't it?
Comrade technomaNge
--
Due to anticipated high turnout in 2010's election,
the Electorial College has scheduled:
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I'd like to think that the technology from the moon shot is probably still out there. The various wisdom needed to manufacture rockets is likely archived in a government building, stored safely on IBM punch cards.
--
Christopher A. Young
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On 4/6/2010 10:50 PM, Stormin Mormon wrote:

It was all done with slide rules...
--

Richard Lamb
http://www.home.earthlink.net/~cavelamb /
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Oddly enough, I still have a couple slide rules. And know how to do some simple functions on them.
--
Christopher A. Young
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On 2010-04-07, cavelamb <""> wrote:

    And how many machines still can read the punched cards today? They were being phased out of computer centers twenty or more years ago.
    Same problem with a lot of tape formats.
    Enjoy,         DoN.
--
Email: < snipped-for-privacy@d-and-d.com> | Voice (all times): (703) 938-4564
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10 years ago (or thereabouts) a meeting was held at our data center to discuss matters dealing with a lawsuit being brought by one of the Unions.
It was explained to the plaintif's lawyer that we had changed computer systems during the period between the time of the meeting and the time that the litigation was concerned with and that we had no way to read - much less reload - the programming and data that they sought although the System Save tapes were still in storage as mandated by state law.
Frustrated, the plaintif's lawyer asked why we still preserved the tapes even though our current system couldn't use them. My response was "The Law says that we have to keep them but doesn't say that we have to be able to read them."
The defense's lawyer cracked up and the plaintif's lawyer stormed out. <grin>
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