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Journey to the Moon: The History of the Apollo Guidance Computer (Library of Flight) Paperback – 1 Jan 1996

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Product details

  • Paperback: 226 pages
  • Publisher: AIAA (1 Jan. 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 156347185X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1563471858
  • Product Dimensions: 1.3 x 17.8 x 25.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,679,963 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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HARDWARE technology, the electronic devices that are a computer's building blocks, has a dramatic as any technological advancement in the human story. Read the first page
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 30 Oct. 1999
Format: Paperback
Journey to the Moon is an incomplete history of the Apollo spacecraft guidance computers. It is told from the viewpoint of a scientist who was intimately involved with its genesis, whilst employed at the MIT Instrumentation Laboratory. The author has covered a rather narrow subject well, and those teaching computer science or lecturing on avionics would probably appreciate the detail that he has included on this neglected area.
Unfortunately, for such an important and neglected area (no other books specifically about the Apollo Guidance Computer spring to mind), the author has produced a disappointingly narrow treatment. There is exhaustive detail about the early design, construction and testing of the computer, but very little about its later history, ie. the operational record. On the plus side there is a very clear explanation of the problems encountered during LM5's (not LM7 as stated in the Preface) powered descent to the Sea of Tranquillity. However, this is not a cheap book; and Apollo 11, 12 and 14 receive just two and a half pages of discussion - there is negligible mention of the other manned flights. The Apollo 14 paragraph is inadequate and does not even mention the implications that the abort switch "fix" had for the landing radar mode. Surprisingly, the book even lacks a detailed table listing the Programs, NOUNs and VERBs.
In conclusion, this is a rather dry, narrow, expensive book, that does however contain many interesting, little known and important facts - if you have the patience to read it. It is not by any means a complete treatment of the subject. Borrow it from a library.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 14 reviews
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Worth the Effort 9 Jun. 2000
By Mark Bladon - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
A super volume - full of detail, a super account of the development of the guidance computer used by the Apollo flights. At the same time, this excellent book is a fascinating account of the growth of the computer itself; we forget how much technology Apollo kick-started, and this book illustrates very effectively the genesis of a new, extraordinary industry
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
What a Journey ! 14 Oct. 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Eldon thank you for putting to paper this bit of history. The photos are great. I really gained a sense of the time, the challenges, and the accomplishments.
I try to imagine after reading your book, how proud you must be to have helped make history. The Apollo program is the greatest accomplishment of the 20th Century.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Superior and Detailed Account 5 Sept. 2003
By Robert I. Hedges - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Eldon Hall has done something rare with this book. He has taken a very complex subject, nearly forgotten due to time, and made it utterly relevant and engaging. For anyone with an interest in either space or computer history, this is a vital book.
It is somewhat technical (I had no idea how they made rope memory modules, an early ROM format before this book for instance), but Hall is very careful to explain things in terms that an average reader can readily understand.
The book itself documents the Apollo Guidance Computer from conception through numerous iterations and changes, to final successful lunar landings. Although the AGC capabilities seem trivial today, the AGC was the world's first Integrated Chip computer, and had enormous hurdles to overcome. In the end, of course, we know that Hall and his fellow employees at MIT did a good job...what I didn't know before was exactly what they had to do and the challenges they had to overcome.
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
The Moon in your PC 16 Mar. 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
The Apollo Guidance Computer (AGC) was a pathfinder in the truest sense of the word. Built in a time when computers where as large as rooms, the AGC was an immense undertaking that culminated in a beautiful, elegant, compact machine that guided our astronauts to the lunar surface and back without failure. The Apollo Guidance computer was, alas, already obsolete by the time it flew to the moon. "Moore's Law" (where computing power doubles every year or at least every 18 months) had once again proven itself axiomatic. Being digital even in an analog age wasn't easy, but the folks at the MIT Instrumentation Lab pulled it off with great success.
Eldon C. Hall weaves for the reader a journey that reveals the gestation of the computer from it's inception through the actual lunar missions. This is a must-read for anyone interested in the computers that they sit in front of on a daily basis. The AGC helped weave today's digital DNA.
The Apollo Guidance Computer-Just think of it as having a little bit of the Moon in your PC.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
An outstanding history of the Apollo computer hardware 14 Nov. 1996
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Eldon Hall, one of the designers of the Apollo guidance computer,
has put together the definitive history of this extrordinary
machine. He builds the story from early research projects at the MIT
instrumentation lab, and takes the reader through the development
process, and up to the the final design. As Journey to the Moon is
a highly technical story, the general reader may get lost in some of
the more technical details. Fear not! Much of the technical details
can be safely ignored without loosing the story line.

A superb collection of color pictures are included, and are
alone worth the price of the book.

Drawbacks? Most glaringly, this is a story about the hardware.
Very little insight is given on the software development effort.
Major software developers, like Alan Klumpp and Donald Eyles
are not even mentioned.

Also, dispite the fact the computer interacted mostly with the
guidance platform, we learn very little about it.

Dispites these grumblings, the book is an excellent reference,
and should be on every space historians bookshelf.
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