Rebooting a 50 Year Old Computer - Making The Apollo Guidance Computer Work Again

  • Published on Jul 20, 2019
  • The Apollo Guidance Computer is a pivotal part of computer history, and it was a key part of making it possible for Apollo to land on the moon. And elsewhere on youtube a team of electronics wizards have been trying to resurrect a computer that was scrapped 50 years ago, and I was lucky enough to turn up at the exact moment they got everything running on its original hardware.
    You should make a point of watching Curious Marc's multi part series on their quest to bring this computer back to life - 50 years after it was originally built.
  • Science & TechnologyScience & Technology

Comments • 1 612

  • PassiveSmoking
    PassiveSmoking 5 days ago

    The thing that really impressed me was that in a 50+ year old prototype machine the only things that were actually broken were the core memory and it’s associated amplifier circuits. The core logic all seemed to still work fine with no restoration required.

  • VTwin Builder
    VTwin Builder 5 days ago

    1:58 - the “fly by wire” aircraft mentioned was a NASA project intended to prove that the digital auto pilot/fly-by-wire functionality worked well enough to control a spacecraft.
    They had an AGC installed in this jet (an F-8, I think) before it ever flew in space. I don’t know anything about an AGC in a submersible but I believe it if you say it happened.
    So ASTP may have been the last time it was used operationally. I’ll have to research the submersible aspect but I know the use in the test jet was *before* Apollo, atleast the first time it flew on a test plane.

  • TheKvack
    TheKvack 6 days ago

    are you jack manleys dad? ;)

  • Mat Deering
    Mat Deering 6 days ago

    My God man. I've got degrees in this stuff - at least from a 90's perspective. I repair 70's and 80's machines for fun.
    These guys are... ummm... I don't have a word to describe the peak nerd Jesusness (is that actually a word?) of these guys.

  • Emmet Ray
    Emmet Ray 7 days ago

    Can it run Crysis?

  • Anubis Smite
    Anubis Smite 8 days ago

    Does it make sense that the US government would televise a mission to the moon live , a monumental endeavor that had so many things that could go terribly wrong and realistically had a very high percentage of something going wrong almost for sure! And considering that not only all Americans but the whole world could possibly watch American Astronauts suffer a horrible death and a monumental failure of our space program that if it failed and the world had watched our American Astronauts suffer a horrendous death on live TV it would most certainly have ended the space program for sure, not to mention the disgrace of having to accept that the Soviet Union had out done the USA and in our inability to accept that we couldn’t out do the Soviet Union in space has cost our Astronauts there lives.
    Do you honestly think that our government would have taken that chance? Especially in 1969 when the US would have done anything to out do the USSR and absolutely wouldn’t have taken any chance of things going horribly wrong and destroying our reputation and how the world looked at us as a nation, it was paramount to our government that we appeared as if we had the upper hand and we could out do the USSR at everything.
    THERE IS NO WAY THAT OUR GOVERNMENT WOULD HAVE TAKEN THAT CHANCE ! NO WAY ! If we did go to the moon , it wasn’t televised and I guarantee that ! What the world watched was a stage and a it was filmed here on earth ! Really think about it hard, they just couldn’t take that chance with so much at risk.

  • Michael Dunne
    Michael Dunne 9 days ago

    Great piece. Really enjoyed this, especially after having the chance to visit the Computer History Museum in Mountain View last fall, and seeing various Apollo hardware ...

  • Jody January
    Jody January Month ago

    I wish I understood this, it’s so interesting and I don’t understand why

  • Imagine A World
    Imagine A World Month ago

    This is flat out gold Scott, thank you for taping this,

  • Dirk Knight
    Dirk Knight Month ago

    It's cool, of course, in a nerdy way... but it's a bit like historical reenactments... no matter how much you tinker around with the clothing, the weapons, horses or boats... you are not and never will be a Roman soldier, a Viking or Columbus. So now you got the Apollo guidance computer running... congrats... you are still sitting in a lab on the ground, tinkering with somebody else's historical achievement instead of making your own. You are not going to the moon. Neither does an astronaut's life depend on your skills... now or ever. Meanwhile the folks at SpaceX are going to Mars...

  • tihzho
    tihzho Month ago

    When you actually have to do stuff, its a PC. In your face Apple!

  • Dung Huynh
    Dung Huynh Month ago

    Some morons out there still believe moon landing was a HOAX !

  • Great Canadian Moose
    Great Canadian Moose 2 months ago

    Hear that? That is their chances of ever getting laid fading away in the winds of nerdom forever... great work men! Keep up the stellar work!

  • Jane Xemylixa
    Jane Xemylixa 2 months ago

    I don't understand almost any tech behind this, but I'm just getting sentimental over here. They brought this funny old machine back out to light, they fixed the missing connections, they introduced themselves to it via its own ultrafast and super-miniaturized grandchildren... and then, after 50 years of dormancy, albeit in a simulation, let it do the one thing it was born to do and was born to do _well._

  • Maltebyte2
    Maltebyte2 2 months ago

    There is me thinking im so smart installing some ddr4 ram haha

  • Brett Ison Gooseknack
    Brett Ison Gooseknack 2 months ago

    It was an awesome moment when that thing came back to life. It's a genuine credit to the team that worked on it.
    Indeed, it's like finding an old car or motor/engine of some kind that has been sitting for 50 years, getting it going and knowing you're the first to hear and see it run in that whole time.

  • Lawrence D’Oliveiro
    Lawrence D’Oliveiro 2 months ago

    3:22 KDE user!

    (That’s the GUI I use on my Linux desktops too.)

  • Stuart & Maryse Tamblyn

    And I have trouble working Windows

    • Dirk Knight
      Dirk Knight Month ago

      That's because Windows is A LOT more complicated. :-)

  • Stuart & Maryse Tamblyn

    So your saying it never went to the moon...

  • Chrisst
    Chrisst 3 months ago

    Where did they get it from, was it out of a recovered Command Module?

  • JAG
    JAG 3 months ago

    I've heard the AGC had about as much memory as a modern micro wave oven. Can that be true?

    • Dirk Knight
      Dirk Knight Month ago

      Could be less. You have to keep in mind that guidance in space is absolutely trivial, in terms of algorithmic complexity. You are simply integrating Newton's equation F=ma with time varying F, m and a. Ten years after Apollo any interested amateur could easily have done the same thing with a sub-$1000 single board computer... the problem was not the computer... the problem was to get hold of a cheap rocket. :-)

  • ObjectsInSpace Man
    ObjectsInSpace Man 3 months ago

    Bravo to all involved. Such an expression of the joy of discovery.... and re-discovery.

  • Chris Musix
    Chris Musix 3 months ago

    It's Christmas Morning for Scott 8:29

  • marck ferrari
    marck ferrari 3 months ago

    Pull up your pants, kid!

  • Old Man
    Old Man 3 months ago

    I understand that it was the first digital computer.

    • Dirk Knight
      Dirk Knight Month ago

      @Old Man You mean you don't trust anybody who isn't thousands of years old and was there when people were learning to count on fingers and using beads and stuff? Okily-dokily... turns around and slowly walks away from the madman. :-)

    • Old Man
      Old Man Month ago

      @Dirk Knight Wiki is a fast source of info, but it sometimes is not completely accurate. I was hoping you might have some first hand knowledge, like if you were in the industry. Thanks any way.

    • Dirk Knight
      Dirk Knight Month ago

      @Old Man This is by no means the first digital computer. Mechanical means of counting (which, by its very nature, is "digital" - as in digits aka fingers) have existed for thousands of years. In the modern era, electrical contraptions that could be called "computers" in a modern sense, have existed since, at least, the late 1930s, solid state computers since the 1950s. Of course, you could have looked that up on Wikipedia yourself.

    • Old Man
      Old Man Month ago

      @Dirk Knight I watched the special on the design and making of the computer. I also watced this video with great interest. If all of this is wrong, please enlighten us and include your sources. I am always willing to learn.

    • Dirk Knight
      Dirk Knight Month ago

      No, you don't understand. :-)

  • Walter Yancey
    Walter Yancey 3 months ago

    Watching these videos makes me feel like a caveman (no insults intended to cavemen).
    I'm just so uneducated in high level electronics discussions.
    My heartfelt thanks that these guys have the knowledge to do such things!
    "I'm not worthy!"

  • JustWasted3HoursHere
    JustWasted3HoursHere 3 months ago

    The Science Channel had an excellent series on the Apollo missions called "Moon Machines". One of the episodes is on the navigation computer. Here's the playlist (6 amazing episodes): (The navigation computer is the 3rd episode). The other five episodes are:
    The Saturn V, The Command Module, The Lunar Lander, The Lunar Rover and The Space Suit. All are fascinating and well put together.

  • Phantom Phlier
    Phantom Phlier 3 months ago

    Flying safe is always a good idea but flying dangerously is so much more fun!

  • Joe Simon
    Joe Simon 4 months ago

    What amazes me is that we have computers today millions of times more powerful and they sometimes can't handle programs written today

  • pillsburied
    pillsburied 4 months ago

    Brilliant. I've been watching these guys working on this project for about a year I guess. I gather they are employees of a computer museum. Absolute geniuses!

  • TheDevil
    TheDevil 4 months ago

    You can simulate this computer :)

  • Brian Engelhardt
    Brian Engelhardt 4 months ago

    Loved the NASSP shoutout. I was a developer on that project for about 2-3 years starting in 2006. It's still one of the things I enjoyed working on the most.

  • vaultboy 124
    vaultboy 124 4 months ago

    i would buy a fully functional miniature mounted AGC that could let you input code so you could see what astronauts would see 60-ish years ago.

  • lionchamp29
    lionchamp29 4 months ago

    Hundred thousand wires is less complicated?

  • Justin Case
    Justin Case 4 months ago

    Crazy, but there's way more processing power in hand-held calculator just 10 years later.

  • pulesjet
    pulesjet 4 months ago

    I did follow some of Curious Mark and crews work. Sure gained some respect for our humble beginnings in space. And to think. Everything it did could be accomplished with a $2.00 Arduino today ?

  • aG3nt oRanGe
    aG3nt oRanGe 4 months ago

    What a lucky guy you are Scott! Thank you so must for sharing this. Probably the greatest retro computer of all time. Absolutely fascinating. The team involved should be commended.

  • Soulware3D
    Soulware3D 4 months ago

    Man, you speak american to americans.

  • Joe Killip
    Joe Killip 4 months ago

    The disaster we see in California is because of the computer and Demacrats wanting to control the world look at how they destroyed so many beautiful cities

  • Julian Müller
    Julian Müller 5 months ago

    can i play chrysis with this?

  • Robert Keefer
    Robert Keefer 5 months ago +1

    I was waiting for the "1201" alarm.

  • Edgarovski
    Edgarovski 5 months ago

    Ok, but can it run Crysis?

  • Steve Vernon
    Steve Vernon 5 months ago

    i want to know why the clock/calendar behind them says Thursday May 6th, was this filmed in 2010?

  • ShamblerDK
    ShamblerDK 5 months ago

    I understood all of it Scott and you're right, when you say it's fascinating :-)

  • Ricardo Becerra
    Ricardo Becerra 5 months ago

    wow when you where removing the memory module, I was waiting for HAL to beg you to stop! lol

  • Professor Plum
    Professor Plum 5 months ago +1

    I feel like I’m going to wake up tomorrow to a Modern Vintage Gamer episode titled: “Doom homebrew for the Apollo guidance computer”

  • Tanya Sapien
    Tanya Sapien 5 months ago

    5:52 "allow it to run any code that they could find"
    so you're saying we can run doom on it

  • Michael Southcott
    Michael Southcott 5 months ago +1

    Interesting work by dedicated restorers. I have heard of ferrite cores but never imagined I would need ever use that knowledge. I believe that the LM orbit to landing program called: P63 Powered Descent Initiate or verb 16 noun 54 update and display flight vectors for the command module might be replicated by science fiction screenwriters as an easter egg in future solar system exploratory shows.

  • BoopyTheFox
    BoopyTheFox 5 months ago

    Ayyyyy, KDE :D

  • Bill Bob
    Bill Bob 5 months ago +1

    This is one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen on TheXvid. The amount of work that went into this is amazing.

  • dBREZ
    dBREZ 5 months ago +1

    I need a 1201 alarm simulation.

  • Audi_ophile
    Audi_ophile 5 months ago

    Most dudes can't wire up a pair of fog lights on a truck, these guys just reverse engineered the computer from a spaceship....

  • ZX Spectrum 128K
    ZX Spectrum 128K 5 months ago

    U guys interested in 8 bit graphics?

  • AZaph
    AZaph 5 months ago

    Didn't Neil Armstrong have to turn off the flight computer during descent, and take manual control of the spacecraft, because the computer became overwhelmed with the amount of oncoming data?

  • Sputnik
    Sputnik 5 months ago

    Average hardware hacking doesn't prove it's suitable for the task because the task is not clearly defined. It is glibly stated as guidance... Which is phenomenally complex in 3d outer space. This is not point and shoot at many many many thousands of mph. They didn't go.

  • Fat Roberto
    Fat Roberto 5 months ago +2

    You have to remember that, only a few years after this, a very young Bill Gates could fit a complete BASIC interpreter into 4kBytes of memory. Now, the millennials who work for his old company would need 4GBytes to do the same job.
    Computers like this were coded at a bit level, not a byte level. Every single bit programmed by setting a row of switches and pressing a button!

  • Scott Haley
    Scott Haley 5 months ago

    I’m anxious for them to try an Apollo Applications mission simulator .... Venus Manned Flyby , for example :)

  • Brian Morgan
    Brian Morgan 5 months ago +1

    The. AGC computer was more powerful than your phone, it had many input and outputs. Every button and light on the control panel, the gimbles, the inertia sensors, the space sextant the thrusters. Programs ran in a timed queue so that the operation was simultaneous and seamless. phones can not do this. The AGC is a marvel of technology

  • Ricky Chon
    Ricky Chon 5 months ago

    Imagine people 50 years from now restoring computers from this decade. The capabilities of future computers is just insane.

  • Ferintosh Farms Photography

    Darn socialist Americans making the world a better place