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iPhone can handle 120 million moon missions at once
Posted by: pRICE cUBE
Date: July 17, 2019 10:46AM
[www.cultofmac.com]

My father was part of an engineering team that designed the housing that held the components for the guidance computer onboard Apollo 11.
Just this morning, I read an article online looking back on the 50 years since man first landed on the moon. I read the story on my iPhone, which holds 100,000 times the processing power of the computer that got Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin to the lunar surface.

The Apollo Guidance Computer had 32,768 bits of RAM Memory, which comes out to 2,048 words. The computer also held 72KB (equal to 589,824 bits) of ROM (Read Only Memory).

“A single alphabetical character – say an ‘a’ or a ‘b’ – typically requires eight bits to be stored,” Kendal wrote. “That means the Apollo 11 computer would not be able to store this article in its 32,768 bits of RAM. Compare that to your mobile phone or an MP3 player and you can appreciate that they are able to store much more, often containing thousands of emails, songs and photographs.”


An iPhone with 4GB of RAM (that’s 34,359,738,368 bits) has more than one million times more memory than the Apollo computer. Comparing ROM memory, a 512GB iPhone is seven million times more powerful than the guidance computer.

quotes on Apple
Just one has a staggering amount of computing power compared to the Apollo 11 computer.
Screenshot: Jonathan Morrison

The processor on the Apollo 11 computer ran at .043 MHz. The latest iPhone processor runs at an estimated 2,490 MHz, 100,000 times more processing power, Kendall said.




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Re: iPhone can handle 120 million moon missions at once
Posted by: cbelt3
Date: July 17, 2019 10:54AM
The computers in the Apollos were still amazing for the time. Space qualified electronics, and space qualified for manned missions, Capable of running and storing all the code with 1960's level technology.

Science is the guiding light. Engineering is the hammer that builds the tools. I met and even worked with some of the people who designed Mercury / Gemini / Apollo hardware.

With slide rules.
And drawing tables.
In INK.
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Re: iPhone can handle 120 million moon missions at once
Posted by: numbered
Date: July 17, 2019 11:23AM
Following this, two very good reads fwiw:

WSJ article on the software development at MIT for Apollo. Some nice anecdotes, including a focus on the "program alerts" Armstrong faced during landing.

Another WSJ piece on getting the hardware running again.
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Re: iPhone can handle 120 million moon missions at once
Posted by: GGD
Date: July 17, 2019 11:36AM
If you're really interested in knowing about the Apollo Guidance Computer, there's a series of YouTube videos from a group that has been restoring one, with the goal of getting it running by the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11.

[www.youtube.com]
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Re: iPhone can handle 120 million moon missions at once
Posted by: neophyte
Date: July 17, 2019 12:31PM
I can't find the Noun and Verb keys on my wife's iPhone. So she just scoffs at me when I threaten her "To the moon, Alice, to the moon..."
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Re: iPhone can handle 120 million moon missions at once
Posted by: testcase
Date: July 17, 2019 12:37PM
An octogenarian machinist friend made parts that are on the LEM (Lunar Excursion Module). boink smiley
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Re: iPhone can handle 120 million moon missions at once
Posted by: Ombligo
Date: July 17, 2019 12:45PM
That generation didn't know that they couldn't succeed. The current generation looks for reasons to not succeed.



“No persons are more frequently wrong, than those who will not admit they are wrong.”
-- François de La Rochefoucauld

"WE CALL BS!" -- Emma Gonzalez
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Re: iPhone can handle 120 million moon missions at once
Posted by: AllGold
Date: July 17, 2019 07:35PM
If I'm not mistaken, 32K of RAM was massive for a 1968 computer. Also, the Apollo computer had to fit into one cubic foot when computers of the time typically filled up a large room.

I can't read the WSJ stories linked above so I don't know if it was covered...

Just saw a bit on Nova last night about the guidance computer. The lead programmer said she often brought her daughter to work and sometimes she would play astronaut. The girl was playing with the computer and suddenly everything shut down. Mom determined she entered P01 and the computer reset as if it was sitting on the launch pad. She told supervisors "We need to make sure the astronauts can't enter P01 after the launch." She was told the astronauts are the best-trained people in the world so nothing to worry about.

On the way back from the moon, Jim Lovell was entering star navigation points into the computer with the sextant and sure enough, instead of S01 entered P01. Then the computer sent the command module spinning and they had to scramble to get it back under control.



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