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Thread: Moonmachines...do you remeber when 72 kbytes was a lot of memory

  1. #1
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    Moonmachines...do you remeber when 72 kbytes was a lot of memory

    Calling all the gray haired techs. These past two nights i have been staying up to watch a series on the development of the appollo series spacecraft from the time of Kennedys announcement of the US going to the moon.

    Not sure if any of you guys get this channel or have seen or see the series in the US. Here is a link.

    http://tvschedule.knowledgenetwork.c...e=moonmachines

    Well I had some real flashbacks and memories when they talked about the first computer that they had to squeeze into the command module and showed the pioneering of a whole new field of technology.

    They mentioned that the first computer used to control the lunar landing had 72Kbyte of memory. I thought back to the day when i graduated and started work in a lab back in SA developing a 32Kbyte memory card for a refrigerated storage holding shed control system to be used at the docks to store and care for fruit before being shipped. Do you think there are many people around that know what a kilobyte even means when everyone talks in gigs and dont even know what it stands for. My oldest son said yeah dad thats 2 and half songs on my mp3

    Boy this thing had 64 chips on it and was so big it had to fit into a 19"rack size card. That was back in 1980.

    They mentioned MIT doing the development and the guys creating the word software for the first time. The guy that had the chief of software title said he told his wife the news and his wife said not to tell anyone about his new title.

    If you can get to see the series it is fantastic. Its the stuff dreams are made of. Except the great thing is its all real and no holywood nonsense.

    I said to my boys and my wife, the most fantastic thing is they were trully making things up as they went along. Yeah we get a lot of new tech nowadays and much of it is taken for granted, but the stuff i really admire is the work that is created from no prior art. Just simply building on making an item bigger or faster or more memory is great but not the kind of achievement that the guys involved in the build of this whole industry achieved.

    Now we have windows so bloated with useless code I often wonder how some of the so called "programmers" would have faired with a 8085 processor and assembler programming language. Guess its just a sign of my going grey.

    Hats off to the leaders of those days who inspired, hired and motivated people to engage in such a historic venture. It must have been such a roller coaster ride testing and developing those craft.
    cheers

  2. #2
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    Boys n Girls -

    You've got more computer power in your cellphone than Neil used to land his rickety spaceship on the moon with no gas left.

    You've got more computer power in your laptop than Mission Control in Houston had in their entire complex, running the whole mission.

    -Kevin in Indy
    "Heroic? He fell off his bloody Aeroplane!"

  3. #3
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    One of the things that stands out in my memories of the Air and Space Museum in Washington DC was how cobbled together the Mercury and Gemini capsules looked. Lots of duct tape and Velcro. It must have taken some serious guts to ride on the tip of a rocket in one of those little cans.
    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
    When the weird get going, they start their own forum. - Vaughn McMillan

    workingwoods.com

  4. #4
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    Vaughn thats exacytly what i thought when i saw the same capsule. Boy they had guts or lots of testosterone.
    The interesting thing in this series was the techs involved all naturally very bright people openly admit that they made it up as they went along. To some extent you could equate them to the prop builders for Star Trek except their props actually had to work.
    cheers

  5. #5
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    My first recollection of the word "computer" was when I was in the Air Force at Larson AFB in Washington state in 1959. There was a gigantic, heavily guarded, building there that we were told contained the 'computer' that largely guided the fighter planes from that installation. It didn't take long for the computing power from that five story building to be dwarfed by hand held, transistorized, consumer products.

  6. #6
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    The IBM 4341 I cut my teeth on had (IIRC) 640k of RAM and ran over half of the Savings and Loan's in California. Exitement was in the air when IBM released their One Meg chip that was about the size of your thumbnail and in the same year they offered a DASD (Disk) the size of a Fridgidaire that had 2.25 Gig of storage!!! WOW!! LOML's daughter has a 32MB iPod .
    Last edited by glenn bradley; 07-17-2009 at 04:40 PM.
    Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
    - Arthur C. Clarke

  7. #7
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    my first computer for business use was an AST286 premium.
    and I thought it was as good as it gets, what a wonderful thing.

  8. #8
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    My introduction to computers was just 'after' the age of punch cards and fortran on main frame units. I first wrote code for an 8k commodore PET desktop machine with the chiclet keyboard... using a cassette drive for storage of the code.
    -Ned

  9. #9
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    i can top ya on tooth cutters glenn (but just by a little). i started out on an IBM 370/138, punch cards in and out, and god help you if you dropped the deck. we moved up to a 4341 a couple of months after i started, and i remember the old removable pack hard drives. those were the days, when we thought it couldn't get any better, when tapes hit 6250 bpi (that's bits per inch larry, or take 1 inch of tape, and cut it into 6250 slices...).
    benedictione omnes bene

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    check out my etsy store, buroviejowoodworking

  10. #10
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    Well, we just banged rocks together and added up the number of clicks. And that was after swimming to school upstream (both ways) underwater to avoid the poisonous volcanic gasses. And we LIKED it!

    Durned kids.



    My first computer recollections were seeing the big mainframes at the labs in Los Alamos back in the early '60s. Both parents worked for the labs, and I saw the computers during an open house event. The high point of the demonstration was when the computer played "Happy Birthday" for the crowd.

    I didn't start getting any real hands-on computer time until the mid '80s.
    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
    When the weird get going, they start their own forum. - Vaughn McMillan

    workingwoods.com

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