In 1969, was it technically possible to land on the Moon when mainframe computers had 128KB of memory and would take up five times as much space as the Lunar Module?

There is one thing that few people know about the computers of the Apollo program.

On the one hand there was the Apollo Guidance Computer (AGC) that controlled the command module and the lunar module. (in each vehicle there was an AGC)

On the other hand, the Saturn V rocket (the most powerful rocket of all time) had a computer called Launch Vehicle Digital Computer (LVDC)

The AGC was used for navigation, landing on the moon (nobody is able to land on the moon completely manually), the LVDC controlled the rocket.

These two computers although they are primitive today, they were the highest technology there was.

Especially the LVDC that was created by IBM was more advanced than computers that were built 15 years later.

It had surface mount transistors. And that was in 1964 when computers were as big as a factory.

SMT or surface mount technology was something totally new and multi-layered at that.

While computer circuit boards from the 60s/70s looked like this:

the LVDC was much more advanced.

Thanks to SMT, the Apollo computers could be miniaturized.

The AGC used as ROM a very exotic technology, Wired Core Memory.

The program was woven!

This technology had several advantages, the computer could be miniaturized and it was very resistant to cosmic radiation and reliable.

The construction of the AGC was very difficult, the slightest defect and a whole batch was rejected.

During the apollo program, 60% of the global production of integrated circuits were used to realize the AGC and LVDC.

The AGC and LVDC were created to go to the moon and were very specialized.

This document shows how the ACG worked with the different components.

There was a television series called Moon Machines. (Machines of the Moon) where engineers and scientists who participated in the Apollo program describe their work and experiences.

In an episode they show how the AGC was created.

Unfortunately it is only in English.

In this video from 1965 MIT engineers explain AGC calibration using a sextant and two fixed points. (A star and a fixed place on earth)

The AGC and LDVC were the first computers in history where people’s lives depended on their correct operation.