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The Apollo Guidance Computer: Architecture and Operation (Springer Praxis Books / Space Exploration) [Paperback]

Frank O'Brien
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
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Book Description

11 July 2010 Springer Praxis Books / Space Exploration

The technological marvel that facilitated the Apollo missions to the Moon was the on-board computer. In the 1960s most computers filled an entire room, but the spacecraft's computer was required to be compact and low power. Although people today find it difficult to accept that it was possible to control a spacecraft using such a 'primitive' computer, it nevertheless had capabilities that are advanced even by today's standards.

This is the first book to fully describe the Apollo guidance computer's architecture, instruction format and programs used by the astronauts. As a comprehensive account, it will span the disciplines of computer science, electrical and aerospace engineering. However, it will also be accessible to the 'space enthusiast'. In short, the intention is for this to be the definitive account of the Apollo guidance computer.

Frank O'Brien's interest in the Apollo program began as a serious amateur historian. About 12 years ago, he began performing research and writing essays for the Apollo Lunar Surface Journal, and the Apollo Flight Journal. Much of this work centered on his primary interests, the Apollo Guidance Computer (AGC) and the Lunar Module. These Journals are generally considered the canonical online reference on the flights to the Moon. He was then asked to assist the curatorial staff in the creation of the Cradle of Aviation Museum, on Long Island, New York, where he helped prepare the Lunar Module simulator, a LM procedure trainer and an Apollo space suit for display. He regularly lectures on the Apollo computer and related topics to diverse groups, from NASA's computer engineering conferences, the IEEE/ACM, computer festivals and university student groups.

Frequently Bought Together

The Apollo Guidance Computer: Architecture and Operation (Springer Praxis Books / Space Exploration) + Saturn V Flight Manual + Apollo 11 Manual: An Insight into the Hardware from the First Manned Mission to Land on the Moon
Price For All Three: 51.39

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Product details

  • Paperback: 460 pages
  • Publisher: Praxis; 2010 edition (11 July 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1441908765
  • ISBN-13: 978-1441908766
  • Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 16.6 x 24 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 231,244 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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From the reviews:

“This exceedingly valuable work will give present day Computer Science students the background to understand how the dramatic breakthroughs in Logical Design, Computer Architecture, Computer Language Interpreters and Real-Time Executive Software was invented, and how it worked in practice. … This excellent reference will form a model for teaching and learning historical Computer Architectures and Software so that future Computer Scientists can understand and learn the original ideas that today guide their field.” (Ira Laefsky, Amazon, September, 2010)

From the Back Cover

By today's standards, the on-board computer used by the Apollo astronaut's was a primitive affair, but in an age when most computers filled an entire room, this was small, required little power, and incorporated several technologies that were revolutionary for its time. This is the first book to fully describe the Apollo guidance computer's architecture, Executive software, and the programs used by astronauts. It describes the full range of technologies required in order to fly the Apollo lunar missions, and whicn enabled the astronauts to fly to the Moon - and back!

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not for the layman, but a classic nonetheless. 28 Aug 2010
By Amazon Customer VINE VOICE
Whilst emphatically not for the layman, this is an utterly fascinating book, detailing the architecture and programming of the AGC that took us from the earth to the moon and back in only 32K of memory. Pitched for the IT professional or engineer with an historical interest in the Apollo project, this book should be required reading on nearly all electronic and computer science degree courses, as an object lesson in hardware and software design and a lesson in what can be accomplished with the most limited resources and timelines.

The AGC was created only a year or two into the history of even basic logic ICs, and the whole machine was implemented with no logic more complex than the three-input NOR gate.

This book is a unanswerable riposte to all the so-called Apollo debunkers who claim it would be "Impossible" with 1960s computing resources.
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Interesting book, but definately on for uber space enthusiasts. Makes you realise how much was done with what is now a comparatively unsophisticated computer, though at the time state of the art.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating in a very geek engineering way 16 Jun 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A superb historical and technical document of a book. The ingenuity and skills that went into creating this were just brilliant and a real credit to everyone involved.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The definitive work on the AGC 1 May 2013
Format:Kindle Edition
The significant contribution of the AGC to the success of Apollo has long been overlooked. This very readable book provides a complete and detailed account of the problems the AGC was designed to solve and the practical issues involved spacecraft navigation. If you've read some of the more detailed accounts of other Apollo hardware then this book is a worthy addition to your collection.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars 29 Aug 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
as decribed
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