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How to Land on the Moon: The Apollo Guidance Computer

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On July 24th 1969 Neil Armstrong landed on the moon, achieving one of humanity’s greatest triumphs but the Saturn V would have been helpless if not for its brain: the Apollo Guidance Computer (AGC). How did the engineers design hardware and software reliable enough to land a man on the moon? How did the AGC achieve concurrency and handle I/O on a single processor? How did they overcome continuous design changes throughout the project and a perpetual lack of memory?

In this talk we will answer these questions and take a look at the structure and architecture of the AGC . We will also see how a 1202 computer alarm threatened to cause the mission to abort minutes before the landing and show in actual fact that the AGC performed flawlessly.

This talk is part of the Churchill CompSci Talks series.

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